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.
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.
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.