Female Red-naped Sapsucker With a Bill Full of Ants

/, Red-naped Sapsuckers, Summit County, Uinta Wasatch Cache National Forest, Utah/Female Red-naped Sapsucker With a Bill Full of Ants

Female Red-naped Sapsucker Close upFemale Red-naped Sapsucker Close up – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/640, ISO 1250, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x Tc, natural light

On Friday I had hoped to find some Red-naped Sapsuckers in the same location up in the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest where I found them last year at a nesting cavity feeding their young. I found the sapsuckers and their new nesting cavity one tree over from where they were last year but photographing them is going to be very hard this year because of branches and shadows from the aspen leaves, the lighting there is so challenging that I might not even try to photograph this pair again this nesting season.

I did get a few images of the female Red-naped Sapsucker coming in with a bill full of ants for the chicks when she briefly landed on the tree next to the nesting cavity. I hadn’t removed my teleconverter yet so I could not fit her whole body into my viewfinder. Then she was gone.

With it being a Friday and camping season trying to find a new sapsucker nesting cavity tree was fruitless because of heavy traffic from people on foot, pickups hauling camping and horse trailers and the annoying and all too noisy OHV’s. I need to go very slow to check out the trees and listen carefully to locate these sapsuckers and that just wasn’t possible on a busy start to the weekend.

It looks like this year will be a bust for me photographing Red-naped Sapsuckers raising their young. They only raise one brood per year and once the young disperse from the nest these sapsuckers can be very hard to find in the forest.

Maybe next year I’ll have better opportunities with these Red-naped Sapsuckers and maybe they will chose to place their new nesting cavity in a location that is easier to photograph.

Life is good.



  1. www.timtraver.net June 18, 2017 at 9:32 pm

    Wonderful photo. The head oriented nearly 180 degrees from the feet. The eye so alert. We had Yellow Bellied Sapsuckers visit our feeders for the first time this spring. So close we could count the faint yellow contour feathers on the belly. Here’s to your next magical Sapsucker tree!

  2. Patty Chadwick June 18, 2017 at 9:23 am

    This posting makes me sad and disgusted all over again–thinking about that great nesting tree some moron chopped down for firewood…during nesting season, no less!!!

    • Elephants Child June 18, 2017 at 1:41 pm

      Echoing Patty’s pain. Remembering with sorrow and anger.
      And grateful that these red-naped sapsuckers are breeding.

  3. Bob mcphersons June 18, 2017 at 4:32 am

    Beautiful photo, Mia

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