Thursday, April 2, 2015
The Scots Pine, Pinus sylvestris, in the above photo (taken in 2011) is a magnificent specimen. The tree is old and gnarled, and resembles a giant bonsai. I always like checking the tree out when I visit; partly just to admire it, and partly for the high probability of seeing Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers.
Anyway, when I approached the Scots Pine, a pair of sapsuckers were squabbling over its juice. The gorgeous male in these photos eventually ran the female off, and established primacy over the tree's numerous well fields.
Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers use scores of tree and shrub species to "frack" sap, but certain individual plants become favorite feeding stations for some reason or another. The sapsuckers that visit this pine each year in migratory periods or winter either reopen existing well fields, or drill new ones nearby. As the weather warms, insects will increasingly be drawn to the flowing sap, which serves the woodpeckers well. They'll grab those too, dip them in the sap, and enjoy entomological caramel apples.