Yellow-bellied sapsuckers are precise timers. Every late March we look for this gorgeous, yet sometimes hard-to-spot, migrating bird. They visit our woods in April on their way to northern breeding areas.

Weather Conditions

Late March and April nights are often below freezing, followed by warm days. That temperature fluctuation stimulates maples to send sap upward. At the same time, the warmer days awaken hungry insects seeking sweet meals. Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers arrive from the south at sap time and make their familiar wells, or small rows of holes, through maple bark. Sap oozes out and attracts protein-rich insects. Hungry migrating sapsuckers dine on both sweet sap and tasty insects.

Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers are Precise Timers

Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers time their migration precisely. They arrive exactly when conditions are perfect. Within a few weeks the weather warms, maples stop bleeding sap, insects disperse, and the birds are north of us getting ready to nest.