|Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker consuming magnolia berries -- Parc Perlère -- James Island, SC -- December 1, 2012|
So I decided to do a little research on this species' fruit-eating habits. Generally, this bird's diet includes sap, insects, inner bark, cambium layers, seeds and fruits (Walters 2002). Interestingly, a study (Beal 1911) in which the stomach content of 313 specimens was examined, revealed that generally 50.7% of the food matter was plant material and the other 49.3% was animal material. Of the plant material consumed, 28.1% was fruit -- except in the month of November, when it was discovered that fruit represented 71.3% of the diet! Ta DA! This is perhaps why we are observing now our Yellow-Bellied Sapsuckers eating fruit. That is what they are eating right now! Why? I could not find any research that addressed that but probably it ties into what is readily available for the birds during this season. Perhaps, the fruit diet also helps them to build of fat reserves for the colder weather to come.
Our next interesting bird of the weekend happens to be our yard bird no. 107! -- a Hermit Thrush! Just yesterday, I was feeling a little bird envy when my friend Francie told me about her yard bird Hermit Thrush overwintering chez elle. This morning at 7 am, I opened the office window to listen to the birds. I immediately heard among the Carolina Wrens, White-Throated Sparrows and Chipping Sparrows, the unmistakable chup, chup of a Hermit Thrush coming from the brush across the creek . Feeling certain it was a Hermit Thrush, I nonetheless checked the call against a recording on the internet. Yes, it was the same. I also double-checked my yard list on eBird! Yes, this was going to be no. 107! Hooray! I still had not yet seen the bird but I was adding it to my eBird list when Carl woke up. Quite frankly, I was not sure that I would find the bird in that low light. I pointed out the continuing chup, chup, chup to Carl and told him "Hermit Thrush -- Yard Bird no. 107!" Carl decided to find the bird. So he went outside and sat low to the ground examining the bushes on the other side of the creek. Suddenly, our bird popped up on top of the fence and then up into the oak. Carl called me and I attempted the photo. Here he is -- our yard bird no. 107 -- Hermit Thrush -- against a backdrop of yellow-orange leaves!
|Hermit Thrush -- Yard Bird|
Without a doubt, I love going on birding excursions. Yesterday, I birded with birding buddies Francie, Keith & Merle at CawCaw Interpretive Center and it was wonderful! My best bird of the day there was the Merlin. Yet, I must also say that I love birding here at home -- especially when I can learn from the birds (and my internet resources!), take good photos, and add to my yard list!
1911. Food of the woodpeckers of the United States. U.S. Dep. Agric. Biol. Surv. Bull. 37. As reported in Walters, Eric L., Edward H. Miller and Peter E. Lowther. 2002. Yellow-bellied Sapsucker ( Sphyrapicus varius), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online: http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/species/662
Walters, Eric L., Edward H. Miller and Peter E. Lowther. 2002. Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus varius), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online: http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/species/662