[Tweeters] RE: Red-breasted Sapsucker Behavior (and some other woodpeckers)

Will Clemons willclemons at yahoo.com
Tue Sep 16 18:57:29 PDT 2008

Whitney, et al

I cannot say how long Red-breasted Sapsuckers live.

But I can say:

1) It is all about getting attention!!

The better the resonance, the more the woodpecker will use it to attract or impress the ladies, and to declare territorial rights. I am sure it is passed on from generation to generation, either via instinct or through observation by younger birds, or lesser males.

2) SW of Portland about 25 years ago, I had a Flicker that regularly woke me up at 5:30am in breeding season by drumming on the chimney cap of the steel flue on my woodstove. The first time I heard it, and before I figured out just what it was, it nearly drummed me right out of bed it gave me such a start.

3) On a Birdathon about five years or so ago, our team was birding near the boat ramp off of Sauvie Island Road on Sauvie Island (NW of Portland, OR). We saw and listened to a Red-breasted Sapsucker drumming on a gutter and also on a downspout. That worked pretty well volume-wise, and got our attention anyway.

4) I bird frequently at Ridgefield NWR in SW Washington. There are Railroad tracks near the entrance to the Refuge. Over the last several breeding seasons at Ridgefield, on many occasions, I have observed multiple Red-breasted Sapsucker's drumming on R/R equipment. This equipment has included, an aluminum satellite signaling dish, the aluminum safety gate arms, the aluminum ladders that go up to the cross members above the road, and the cross members them selves. Once there were Three males all drumming away at the same time on various aluminum R/R parts at the same time. Dueling Sapsuckers!

Will Clemons
SW of Portland
willclemons AT Yahoo dot com

The best excuse for getting outdoors
And avoiding chores

Subject: Red-breasted Sapsucker Behavior
From: Whitney H <ms_whitneyk AT hotmail.com>
Date: Tue, 16 Sep 2008 10:47:47 -0700
Hello Tweeters -

My folks have a family of Red-breasted Sapsuckers that have been showing some
interesting behavior. They asked me to pose their questions to you all to see
if you have also encountered this type of behavior.

For the past 15 years, these birds have taken to tapping on the metal box on
the electrical pole across the street. The sound resonates and is very
distinctive. How long do Red-breasted Sapsuckers traditionally live? Because
it's been over 15 years that this has occurred, do you think this is a behavior
taught to their offspring?

I am including a link to the beginning of some pictures of one of these birds
and it's methodical tapping into one of the folks' Mountain Ash trees. Feel
free to scroll through and enjoy! My family looks forward to your input and
thoughts on their questions.


Whitney H.
Des Moines, WA_

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