About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Woodpeckers at the nectar feeder

Dear Sarah, I just looked out my kitchen window a few minutes ago to discover a Downy Woodpecker drinking/sipping from the hummingbird feeder, and not from the water in the ant moat as the chickadees have done, but from the ports covering the sugar water.  He/she took several sips, not enough time to get my camera though.

Is this unusual behavior?  I thought it was cool. 
Sue

ps the nesting material holder I got when I came in with our granddaughters is getting some good use.  They have taken most of the feathers and are now working on the other stuff.

Thank you for sharing your observations! It’s not unusual for a woodpecker to be attracted to sugar water. Lots of trees produce yummy sap like the sugar maples. Woodpeckers can drill into these trees for the sugary treat and also come back later to pick out bugs that get stuck in the sticky sap.

In fact hummingbirds are known to follow the sapsuckers during migration. The Yellow-bellied Sapsucker drills parallel "wells" in the bark of trees and laps up the sap that oozes out from the tree. Hummingbirds, waxwings, and warblers take advantage of these pre-drilled sweet sap sources for a quick bite while traveling.

Besides the hummingbirds and woodpeckers, there are orioles, finches, catbirds, rose breasted grosbeaks and some migrating birds like warblers that appreciate quick energy drinks at the nectar feeder. So keep the camera handy. I’d love to see photos!

I’m glad your nesting material is working out, too. I’m refilling mine as fast as I can with hair the cats are donating. I like to watch them struggling with a huge wad of the fluffy hair!
Sarah

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