When you think about a forest habitat and what birds may be found there, woodpeckers are probably one of the first birds to come to mind. Woodpeckers and Sapsuckers depend on trees for everything they do, from finding food, attracting mates, securing territory, to nesting and raising young. It’s no wonder then, that Mt. Sutro would be a great place to find these beloved characters.
On September 1st, the Golden Gate Audubon Society Mt. Sutro field trip met in the Woods Lot. We had a group of ten birders, with a varied range of experience levels and familiarity with the mountain. Straight away, right in the parking lot, we spotted the rectangular wells made by a Sapsucker lining a tree trunk. Sapsuckers, members of the Woodpecker family, use their hammer-drill like bills to peel away the top layer of bark and exposing the sap underneath. They drink the sap using their specialized tongues. They tend the wells regularly, keeping the sap flowing, redrilling when necessary. As we were admiring the wells, as if on cue, a Red-breasted Sapsucker came around the trunk of the tree, making his well rounds. Their brilliant, fully red heads set them apart from the other Woodpeckers found in San Francisco. (Photo of a Red-breasted Sapsucker, above right, by Linda Tanner.)
Throughout the the walk, up to the summit, and back around and down the Historic Trail we heard Pacific Wren (pictured, left) singing, sometimes quietly in what is know as their “whisper song” to get in some practice without attracting too much attention. And unique to the month of September we saw both the Wilson’s Warbler, an SF summering bird, and the Townsend’s Warbler, just arrived to spend the winter here.
You can see a full list of the birds we saw here. Thank you to everyone who joined the walk! We hope to see you on future Golden Gate Audubon Society Field Trips.