Hi All,

     Every once in a while I am fortunate enough to be able to conduct a 
30-minute stationary count during mid-day at a point in about the middle of the 
woods adjacent to my house.  Today was one of those days, and my count was the 
47th half-hour count at that site since the beginning of April.  I have seen a 
lot of that 23.5 hours of observation at the same place in the woods over the 
last five-plus week.  I want to pass along a bit of natural history I observed 

     I’ve had the great fortune of watching a pair of Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers 
establish a territory that virtually centers on my point count location.  Over 
the course of about two weeks, I watched as they took turns excavating a new 
cavity on a Red Maple branch that already had eight woodpecker holes in it.  
Indeed, they chased away a pair of White-breasted Nuthatches that seemed to 
want to use one of the smaller holes on the back side of the branch.  The new 
Sapsucker cavity was constructed on the branch facing my count point and only 
about 20 yards away.

     As excavation neared completion, I almost laughed out loud watching the 
male appear from inside the cavity with mouthfuls of woodchips, spit them out 
in a shower, and disappear back inside for another mouthful.  In addition to 
watching nest excavation, I have witnessed neat interactions between the pair, 
including lots and lots of soft mews and other vocalizations I doubt I had ever 
heard.  Twice I witnessed the female visit the presumably completed nest, 
disappear inside for a couple of minutes and then depart again.  Once, she sat 
just outside the cavity and preened for over 10 minutes before going inside for 
a couple minutes, then emerging and flying away.  Perhaps she was laying an egg 
at those times.

     Today, I did my count from 1:45 to 2:15pm.  At 1:57, I saw the female 
emerge from the cavity (I did not know she was in there), and fly to a tree 
about 50 yards away.  She defecated almost on top of me as she flew over my 
head, suggesting to me that she might have been in the cavity for a while.  
When she landed, she issued on soft mew call that was returned from somewhere 
just out of site in another direction.  After two minutes, the male flew to the 
cavity, looked inside, then flew away out of view.  At 2:06, the female return 
and sat preening right outside the nest cavity.  Then at 2:10 she disappeared 
inside the nest.

     May there nest be successful.

Jody Enck
President of the Cayuga Bird Club


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