[CT Birds] Downy v. Hummer

Lynn Jones lynnjones11 at gmail.com
Fri Jul 5 11:13:40 EDT 2013

I've heard of this behavior fairly frequently and doing a quick google
search of 'downy woodpecker hummingbird feeder' will bring up many images.

>From Bird of North America Online:

"Reviews of the evidence, along with new observations and interpretations,
concluded that Downy Woodpeckers do sometimes drink sap and eat cambium,
but that they make holes distinguishable from those of sapsuckers in that
they are smaller, less rectangular, and less deep, not going into the
wood (McAtee
Forbush 1927<http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/species/613/articles/species/613/biblio/bib072>,
Townsend 1932<http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/species/613/articles/species/613/biblio/bib265>).
These reviewers concluded that Downy Woodpeckers eat relatively little
cambium (compared to sapsuckers), do not return to sapwells, and thus do
not injure the tree. More recent observations demonstrate that both sexes
make use of sap exuding from sapwells made by sapsuckers and from other
wounds, and sap use is generally limited to late winter/early spring (Stanek

Everybody gets thirsty I guess.

On Fri, Jul 5, 2013 at 10:28 AM, Tricia Reid <reidtri at gmail.com> wrote:

> Though I always have butcher's suet available for my woodpeckers, over the
> past two weeks I too have had a Downy coming to my nectar. The first time
> I've had this happen  and it's definately a woodpecker, not a sapsucker!
> The feeder is close enough to my window for me to see that.
> --
> Tricia Reid
> reidtri at gmail.com
> Mansfield Center
> _______________________________________________
> This list is provided by the Connecticut Ornithological Association (COA)
> for the discussion of birds and birding in Connecticut.
> For subscription information visit
> http://lists.ctbirding.org/mailman/listinfo/ctbirds_lists.ctbirding.org

Lynn A. Jones
Museum Assistant
Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History
New Haven, CT

More information about the CTBirds mailing list