The Red Breasted Sap Sucker is a rare spot for birders in downtown San Jose, California. Signs of the Sap Sucker’s presence are rows of holes bored into tree trunks and branches. They partake of the trees sap by carving tiny reservoirs in the tree. The tree, in an attempt to heal its wound, releases sap which is easily accessible to many types of wildlife: hummingbirds, songbirds, squirrels, and insects all reap the benefit of the Sap Sucker’s hard work.
After 4 years of seeing signs of the Sap Sucker, February 15th, 2012, I spotted one just north of Coleman Avenue along the Guadalupe River. As I examined its’ territory I noticed big scarring on one of the main trunks utilized by the Sap Sucker. Late last year, brush and trees were cleared and the Sap Suckers territory grew smaller. Sap Suckers prefer old growth forests. With few remaining old growth trees and continuing urban development in the Santa Clara Valley, one doesn’t have to speculate as to why the Sap Sucker is infrequently spotted. Your best chances of spotting one, in the valley are the various preserves in the Santa Cruz Mountains and Guadalupe Oak Grove Park. Keep your head up for the rows of holes in Eucalyptus, Oak, Cottonwood, Willow, and Sycamores trees.