Red-breasted Sapsucker

Red-breasted Sapsucker on Red Alder – note how tail feathers are used as a prop/balance against the trunk

I’ve previously noticed and commented on Red-breasted Sapsuckers and cold weather as well as speculating on what they are doing in winter around here – so one of things I wanted to do during the recent cold snap was get down to the park and see if any sapsuckers were around.

I didn’t end up making it down there until the clouds returned and temperatures had started to rise, but was still able to find two sapsuckers – the one photographed here was in thee trees between the SJ Hatchery and the Crescent Harbor playground. This bird was doing something I had not seen before – a couple of different times I saw it fly down to the cement wall where the flume water came out of the penstock. It would perch on thee cement near the water and appeared to be drinking (see photos below). No doubt they need water, but I wonder if they usually can get enough from the sap they consume. In any case, it was interesting to watch this new-to-me behavior.

The pattern of black on white on the folded wings and tail stood out to me as particularly striking – something I hadn’t really noticed before

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