Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Red-breasted Sapsucker

This photo, taken yesterday during a bird walk in the Dallas City Park, is our first sighting of the year in Polk County of a Red-breasted Sapsucker. The spring weather has the sap moving in the trees and this member of the woodpecker family is visiting his sap wells for sap and any insects that might have be attracted to the sap. If you look closely at the photo you can see the round hole he has made previously with the sticky sap at the edges. Even more interesting in the photo is the dull look to his eye.  Notice the shine coming from a partially closed eye lid.  It's a translucent third eyelid, technically called a nictitating membrane. It allows protection to the eye while still allowing visibility. In this case the sapsucker's eyes are protected from flying wood chips and sap while drilling. This interesting feature is found in not only birds but fish, amphibians, reptiles and mammals. Ok, call me a bird nerd, I can't help rambling on about things I find fascinating.

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