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This month in the garden...


"The best way to make sure you're removing a weed and not a valuable plant? If it comes out of the ground easily it's a valuable plant."



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This Month in the Garden (December 2009)...

Yellow-bellied sapsuckers are the only migratory woodpeckers in eastern North America.  The birds may winter as far south as Panama but some individuals, like this one, stay in the southern parts of their breeding territory during the winter.  This bird (or one just like it) has been sighted in a Garden Club memberís Port Washington yard for three winters.  Females can be distinguished from males by the white feathers on their throats.

Sapsuckers drill holes in tree trunks, drinking the sweet sap.  They also feed on the cambium, or growth layer, of bark, especially in fruit trees.  The birds eat the insects attracted to the oozing sap as well as those they find elsewhere on the trees and pluck from the air. Fruit and berries are important parts of their diet as well.

Yellow-bellied sapsuckers drum to mark their territory during mating season.  The birds can beat out their signals on tree trunks, street signs and even chimney flashings without harming themselves.  They nest in deciduous trees, especially birch and aspen where they excavate nesting cavities 20 to 30 feet above the ground.  They raise one brood a year, caring for the nestlings up to four weeks after they hatch.  The same birds mate each year as long as they both survive although they may not spend the entire year as a pair.

Other birds and animals benefit from the sapsuckerís work, feeding at their sap wells and reusing abandon nesting hallows.  Unlike many birds, the yellow-bellied sapsuckers have benefited from cutting old growth forest since they favor open areas and edge habitat.

This Month in the Garden Archive:

November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
June 2010

April 2010
March 2010
February 2010

January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009

March 2009


Port Washington Garden Club, PO Box 492, Port Washington, Wisconsin 53074
Registered 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization