Friday, March 28, 2008

Yellow-bellied indeed

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker-----Photo by Lloyd Spitalnik

Like the rare Scott's Oriole that visited Union Square Park last winter, the Western Tanager now delighting birdwatchers in Central Park is feeding on sap in holes drilled by Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers.

As you can see in the photo above, the belly of this handsome woodpecker is hardly yellow. At best it might be said to have a slight yellowish tinge. But having seen both the Union Square Oriole and the Central Park Western Tanager chasing away the diligent sapsuckers trying to enjoy the fruits of their labor, and having watched the sharp-billed sapsuckers give up their sap-holes without the smallest fight, I am beginning to wonder if the bird was named yellow-bellied for its character, not its belly color.