by Louie Dombroski, Paton Center Birder-in-Residence
One of the tallest trees growing just over the fence behind the hummingbird viewing pavilion at the Paton Center for Hummingbirds is a Siberian Elm that has been a hub of activity the last few weeks for a variety of insects and birds. The reason? Red-naped Sapsuckers have been drilling rows of holes on its major limbs, creating wells of sap that are attracting honeybees, moths, and butterflies, and smaller insects too.
Butterflies taking advantage of the sapsuckers’ work included a Question Mark (the name given to this species, not an indication of confusing identity), and numerous American Snouts. Birds coming in have included numerous Yellow-rumped Warblers, a Cassin’s Vireo, a Ruby-crowned Kinglet, hummingbirds, and a few lingering summer breeders. A Summer Tanager was seen snapping up a few honeybees and a Dusky-capped Flycatcher helped itself to an American Snout or two as it passed through the yard. Even the Arizona Gray Squirrels have been visiting the tree to lap up the sap.
Once a tree chosen by the sapsuckers is discovered, it bears watching into the winter months. Last year such a tree just down the road from the Paton Center attracted a Bullock’s Oriole, found just in time for the Christmas Bird Count!