Brrrr…., it’s cold!

A week of subzero temperatures, and then strong winds and blizzard conditions brought lots of hungry birds to the feeder this morning.  I was pleased to see the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker back at the suet feeder.

yellow-bellied sapsucker juvenile

Even though this bird has twice the body mass of a Downy Woodpecker, it seems less tolerant of the extreme cold than the smaller Downy.  The sapsucker seems less active than the Downys do, spends more time sitting either perched or feeding, and erects its plumage until it resembles a feathered ball of fluff, while Downy Woodpeckers maintain their sleek contour even on extremely cold days.


And this nicely excavated hole is a great place to get away from the bitter cold and wind chill.

The map of Yellow-bellied Sapsucker winter range shows most birds spending their time no further north than central Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana, not the Arctic north of Minnesota in the winter.  So perhaps they are actually not as well insulated or as capable of revving up their internal metabolic furnace as the resident Downy Woodpeckers are.

After this little Sapsucker finished probing all the holes full of peanut butter suet, it flew over to the Buckeye tree to huddle up against the bark and gain some protection from the wind.

yellow-bellied sapsucker juvenile

Doesn’t this photo say — “I’m so cold!”
(I took the photo through the window and had to cut out the distortion from the glass.)

yellow-bellied sapsucker juvenile

Do you think the bird could get those feathers any more fluffed out? Brrr…., it’s cold out here!


8 thoughts on “Brrrr…., it’s cold!

    • I imagine there are some downy feather next to the bird’s skin that add further insulation as well. But the problem on a day like I photographed this bird was the wind that disrupts that wonderful insulation and carries the body heat away.

    • thanks Rachael, there are 5 woodpecker species in just my back yard in the winter, and other species can be found in other (more northern parts of the state), and then still other woodpecker species return to breed in the spring, so in total number of woodpeckers, sapsuckers, and flickers — 11 species call Minnesota home for all or part of the year. Thanks for asking!

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