Photographed by Bette Jackson
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Hi, I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson, out with the wild things. Most woodpeckers feed on insects found in trees and can live in forested areas of North America year-around. The yellow-bellied sapsucker, however, specializes in drinking the sweet sap of trees and during cold weather, trees become dormant with no flow of sap. Sapsuckers must migrate to warmer climates in search of food. As they fly south, they travel at night, stopping by day to feed at sap wells made in previous years and on ripe fruit such as persimmons. There are distinct differences in the migrations of males and females. Most male sapsuckers winter in middle to southern states, while females fly farther south, sometimes to the Caribbean or Central America. A female sapsucker's long journey is rewarded with an abundant supply of sap and fruit. Males have less food available, but being used to the colder weather of their winter home, they can travel north in spring sooner than females. Some males return while northern areas are still frozen because the first males to return get the best nesting areas, and these are the areas females will favor when they return from their winter in the southern sun.
'With the Wild Things' is produced at the Whitaker Center in the College of Arts and Sciences at Florida Gulf Coast University. For 'The Wild Things', I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson.