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Yellow bellied sapsuckers

 
Posts: 423
Location: Dawson Creek, BC, Canada
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I was just outside building some raised beds to start thicket bean in, and recognized a bird flaying overhead - yellow bellied sapsucker.  A kind of wood pecker which has a sweet tooth.

These birds seem to develop a fancy for certain trees.  On my lawn, had a very nice weeping birch, which was its favorite tree.  But you could see its checkerboard damage of bark on lots of other trees: paper birch, mountain ash, willow, spruce and so on.

I am thinking of trying to establish a "sugar bush" (sugar maple with associated trees) in a spot on my land, and it has even more sugar in the sap than the birch does.  If I just plant one or two maples, that isn't enough to make syrup at some point (Vermont vacuum method or taps).  If I plant 100 or so maples, I am hoping that is too many trees and so only some may have excessive problems.  The flip side is that I could now end up having many besting pairs of these destructive little tree killers on my land.

Any ideas on managing these woodpeckers?  The region does have two other woodpeckers that I believe are here all year long.  These sapsuckers are migratory.
 
master pollinator
Posts: 8838
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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I have seen sapsuckers at work, and I don't know that they actually kill the trees. They also eat bugs. They will dig for bugs and the sap is often a trap for bugs.

Sapsuckers feed on my alder trees. As a new grove develops, many of them are shaded out and they die. The dead trees have evidence of sapsucker activity, but the trees that remain show the exact same scarring.

I've always thought that this particular bird has a name that sounds somewhat derogatory. :-)

I imagine John Wayne looking at a thief and saying, "get out of here you yellow-bellied sapsucker."
 
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Gordon Haverland wrote:... destructive little tree killers on my land.


We have woodpeckers too which do in fact kill trees....for those who aren't aware, woodpeckers don't just go after wood worms or insects on trees -they actually create holes in the trees so insects will nest there and the woodpecker can come back and have a feast on the hole the woodpecker created.... hence the derogatory, having a feast on the misery of the tree and the insects proclivity for holes.

this is also why you'll see woodpeckers pecking on metal, which sounds like a jack hammer going off.

...sorry my knowledge of woodpeckers doesn't include how to get rid of them other than a gun which isn't subtle, is expensive in time and ammo...I'm sure there are other solutions   ...anyone?
 
Gordon Haverland
Posts: 423
Location: Dawson Creek, BC, Canada
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I seen a picture of an old pecan tree somewhere in the Carolinas, that had 200+ (?) years of work by yellow bellied sapsuckers on it.  The tree seemed to be doing fine.  My weeping birch was a 40 foot tall with 3 trunks? and some minor stuff that was partly trunk and partly branch.  The three main trunks all died above the ring of checkerboard.  That tree consists of a small (2 inch?) trunk now, going up about 10-12 feet.  Low enough for moose to predate it in the winter.
 
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Location: Haida Gwaii, British Columbia (7b)
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We have sapsuckers up here as well. Through my research, it appears they can - over time - damage trees by making them more susceptible to disease.

The sapsuckers have been working on a big old hemlock in our yard, apparently for many years.

I ended up hanging a tire swing up there for my daughter, using yellow nylon rope. The sapsuckers haven’t been back! I realize this is only anecdotal, but they are active on other trees in the area and no longer attack the hemlock! Adding something colourful to the tree may be effective.
 
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