Kindling Neighborly Connections between People and Nature.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Sapsuckers are back! (April 4th, 2020)

I've been having such an amazing time visiting the Algerine Swamp Natural Area that I wanted to show it to Erin today. About lunch time we got there. After sauntering a little ways through the balsam fir to the edge of where it begins to get very wet, we turned back out towards the road. Neither of us wanting to leave quite yet, we proceeded to walk west along Gamble Run Road. At about the place where spruce forest transitions to deciduous woodland, we heard the arrhythmic tapping of a yellow-belled sapsucker. My first thought was, "I'm glad they're back! What great joy to hear the sapsucker's off-beat percussion here today!"

A glance to our left revealed that a sapsucker was making good use of one of the dead branches in the mid-story of a large red oak for a drumming spot. While we looked on, a second sapsucker approached squeaking and with wings partly opened as the two males faced each other in close proximity on the branch. Following a brief quarrel, the second flew off into the forest; the drummer's domain effectively defended!

Was this practice, or had he already chosen a breeding territory for the year? It's hard to tell this early in the migration season; when many more have yet to pass through on the journey north. Of course, part of the population will breed in north-central Pennsylvania, but others will continue northbound from here, their arrhythmic tapping echoing through the woods in every land through which they pass along the way.

It is with the yellow-bellied sapsucker as it is with all of my wild neighbors; my heart rejoices in seeing them thrive. For their sake and for mine; this is why it is important to me to work for the preservation of the wild spaces that our wild neighbors call home.

Here is a link to a website managed by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in case you want to learn more about the yellow-bellied sapsucker:

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