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Concussed sapsuckers recover at PROWLS

Red-breasted sapsucker

Powell River Orphaned Wildlife Society (PROWLS) president Merrilee Prior was called after a red-breasted sapsucker was found lying near Old Mine Road, north of Powell River, and easily picked up. Another red-breasted sapsucker was rescued in Wildwood. This one had hit a window and was out cold with a concussion. Both had injured shoulders that required a few weeks of care.

While at PROWLS, they guzzled a mixture of hummingbird nectar and blackberry juice from a hamster-style water feeder. Also on their menu were pellets, mealworms and fresh berries.

When able to take a break from eating, they pounded enthusiastically on slabs of Douglas fir bark in their cage. Once rehabbers are used to their loud knocking, they are enjoyable patients, content and cheerful with their lot. They overwinter here so migration and finding a flock is not an issue.

Hummingbirds are closely associated with the red-breasted sapsucker, nesting near sap wells and following this sapsucker around during the day, feeding at the wells the sapsucker keeps flowing.

The red-breasted sapsucker also forages for insects by gleaning, probing, prying, tapping and fly catching. These birds were once shot as orchard pests, but, at this time, their numbers are good.

They choose a dead tree or branch for their nest with either no nesting material added or sometimes wood chips. Four to seven eggs are laid. Naked and helpless when hatched, they stay in the nest for three to four weeks, coming out fully feathered.