Photographed by Bette Jackson
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Hi, I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson, out with the wild things. When the yellow-bellied sapsucker finds a tree with a vein of sweet sap, it works at its sap wells each day to keep the tiny holes open and flowing. Throughout the day, it returns to the same wells to drink. Other creatures find sweet sap enticing, too, and take advantage of the sapsucker's efforts. Downy and red-bellied woodpeckers often drink at sapsucker wells. So too do ruby-throated hummingbirds. There's a strong correlation between the migration schedules of sapsuckers and hummingbirds, and hummingbirds often nest near sapsucker trees because of the ready source of food. Bees, flies, butterflies, and other insects also find nourishment at sapsucker holes. Some lizards such as our green anole and broad-headed skink will occasionally drink sap from the wells, and will also wait by a sap well to capture insects. At night, the sap wells of yellow-bellied sapsuckers are visited by moths and other nocturnal insects and both the sap and the insects provide food for flying squirrels. A sapsucker's food tree usually becomes a fast-food service for a diversity of life in woodland communities.
'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.