Sapsucker, you say?

Thu. Mar. 2, 2017

Click below to listen to my Garden Bite radio show:  Sapsucker, you say?

Sapsucker you say?  Yellow bellied even?  Your first image MAY be of a cowardly bird.  However, there are others who see red…  Homeowners have accused these lovely birds of killing their trees.


A friend and colleague, Faith Appelquist, says “Not True”.  While the sapsucker creates those holes you see in the picture below, Faith, an arborist with her own company Treequality, says those holes will scab over.  The caveat is that if trees are already stressed or in decline for other reasons they may be set back by bacteria or fungi that enter the wound.  btw, if you need an arborist, I highly recommend Treequality! 

Sapsucker holes courtesy of TreeQuality


The sap that flows attracts insects that they eat which are high-protein and high-fat.  The sapsuckers use the sap as a sort of dipping sauce as it’s just lightly sugared.  In fact, it’s mostly water with just  2 ½ percent sugar content.  As a comparison, nectar is 25% sugar.

These birds are doing good, eating a huge amount of blood-thirsty mosquitoes and other pests in the garden.  There are 4 species of Sapsuckers, the Yellow bellied is native to Minnesota.  The best way to attract woodpeckers to your yard is with a suet feeder. 

Another sap sucking bird is the Pileated Woodpecker.  An amazing sight!

Pileated woodpecker in Lakeville

It’s difficult to tell how big this guy is the picture! They have a RODAN sound that can be a bit frightening!

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