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Broad-Tailed Hummingbird Attracted to Food of the Red-Naped Sapsucker

H. Raymond Hall
Publication Information
6 (November-December)
From Field and Study

Broad-tailed Hummingbird Attracted to Food of the Red-naped Sapsucker

Twice, within less than a minute, I watched a sapsucker drive a hummingbird away from the trunk of a large mountain birch (Betula jontinalis). A few seconds after its second retreat the hummer was back, but my effort to obtain both birds with a single shot was only half successful; the hummer darted away. Two minutes and 40 seconds later, however, it reappeared and I was able to collect it-a thing I did because the dusk (7:45 p.m. on August 6, 1938) made sight identification uncertain and I wished to identify the birds accurately. They proved to be a Broad-tailed Hummingbird (Selaphorus platycercus platycercus) and an immature Red-nap& Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus varius nuchdis). The place was alongside Lehman Creek, at 7800 feet altitude, in the Snake Mountains of White Pine County, Nevada.

Investigation revealed both old and new series of sapsucker-made perforations in the birch bark 12 feet above the ground, where the trunk was 254 millimeters in circumference. The recently drilled holes were above the older holes, and it was in these newer lesions only that I detected a slight amount of sap. This sap I supposed was attractive as food to the hummingbird. Of flowers in bloom nearby which might have occupied the hummingbird’s attention I noted just two, red Indian paint brush and blue monkshood.

H. Raymond Hall

Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, Berkeley, California, August 25, 1938

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