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Nature Notebook

An uncommon but not rare winter bird you might find at your birdfeeders or in your backyard woods is the yellow-bellied sapsucker. This species normally migrates down south after the summer breeding season, and although uncommon, some individuals attempt to overwinter in the southern part of their breeding range. Mid-Michigan is at the edge of this range which extends north into Canada.

Sap, when it isn’t frozen in the trees’ cambium (aka, the water and sap tubes), is only a part of a sapsucker’s diet. Like other woodpeckers, the bird also eats insects, especially the ants that are attracted to the sap-filled holes drilled by the sapsucker. It will also chip off bark pieces to find spiders and other insects.

Individuals that stay north can substitute bird feeder suet for insects. However, unlike their resident woodpecker compatriots, they won’t be interested in the seeds. Some will also seek out any berries that weren’t devoured during the fall migration. Poison ivy berries may be a lifesaver.

Join the Nature Center for a Women in Nature guided ski program on the grounds on Saturday, Jan. 28 at 1 p.m. Cost is $5 for the guided ski and $5 for rentals. Please call (269) 927-4832 to register.

Bring the family out for a snowshoe hike (or regular hike if no snow) and hot dog roast on our trails this Sunday, Jan. 29, from 2–3:30 p.m. Along the way you can stop at the bonfire to warm up with hot drinks and roasting hot dogs. Non-member: $15/adult & $10/child.

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