Sapsuckers and Woodpeckers Bird-Watching Project

The Sapsuckers and Woodpeckers Bird-Watching Project will help you identify what birds are making all those holes in your trees.

What You'll Need:
  • Powers of observation

Sapsuckers and woodpeckers have chisel-like beaks that they use to drill holes in trees. Both feed along tree trunks, but eat different kinds of foods.

Woodpeckers eat insects, and drill for them with their beaks. Sapsuckers punch holes in trees, then lick up the sweet sap with their long tongues.

Look around your yard or a park for trees with small holes in them. Notice the pattern of the holes.

Woodpeckers eat insects wherever they find them, leaving holes randomly scattered around the tree.

Sapsuckers feed more systematically. They will patiently drill a straight line of holes across the tree trunk. By the time the bird finishes drilling the last hole, the first is full of sap. The bird then drinks the sap from each hole, first to last, in turn. When the holes stop dripping sap, the sapsucker drills some more.

If you see horizontal rows of holes along a tree trunk, you know the sapsuckers have been at work. If you like, hide behind a bush or a tree near the tree where woodpeckers or sapsuckers have been working. If you're patient enough, the birds might return and you can watch them feed.

After you learn the next bird-watching project, you just might be able to make some new feathered friends.

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