Buttercup & The Yellow Bellied Sapsucker

The Yellow Bellied Sap-Sucker

Buttercup & the Yellow Bellied Sap-Sucker


Some days are just perfect for a picnic, and this was one of those days. The sun was out, the birds were singing, and the picnic basket was packed. Buttercup peered into the basket to see exactly what was inside.

There were yummy cucumber sammies. There were carrots, with crisp green tops. There were bright red radishes tucked neatly next to some long, green stalks of crunchy celery. And there was something else in the basket, something that her eyes could not see, but the yummy-tummy sweet smell could not hide from her little nosie. She knew where they were, they were right there under the soft white cloth with the tiny color prints of little bunches of carrots and lettuces. She reached down inside and lifted one corner of the cloth, and there they were! First she saw their little stems that were brown at the tips, and as she lifted the cloth some more she saw their beautiful, freckled yellow bodies. “Nanas!” She exclaimed.

The yellow color of the nanas reminded Buttercup that she was going to the Park hoping to see the elusive Yellow Bellied Sapsucker. Elusive means that you hardly ever see a Yellow Bellied Sapsucker when you go out to the Park to see one.

“Papa-Shmapa! How many nanas are we taking to the picnic?” asked Buttercup.

“Why don’t you count them?” Suggested her Papa as he shut all the windows in the apartment. Buttercup grumbled in a playful voice,

“Every time I need to know how many nanas theriz in a picnic basket I got to count ‘em!” She smiled because she only pretends to be upset when she has to count nanas. The truth is she loves to count...especially when there were nanas to count. “Oh-Tay Papa Shmapa!” said Buttercup and she took a deep breath and began to count the nanas. “Now let’s see, there’s a one nana,” she gave the first one a soft pat, “...and there’s another one nana,” she gave the second one a soft pat also, “and there’s another one nana...he’s a fat juicy one!” She gave the third nana a soft pinch on his freckles. “And a baby one nana...hiding behind the sammies! Yay!” She shouted.

“How many nanas did you count, Butters?” asked her Papa as he came over and peered into the basket. Pumpkin also came over and looked into the basket. He took a few sniffs of the nanas and smiled.

“Papa, I counted a one nana, and another one, and another, and the baby one there...that makes...” she thought very hard, “a whole bunch of happy nanas there in the picnic basket!” She was very proud of herself so she gave Pumpkin a soft pinch on his chubby cheeks and she gave her Papa a big hug.

“Very good! One day you’ll be able to count big bunches of nanas...all by yourself.” Said her Papa.

“And Papa I can’t count nanas too you know!” said Pumpkin as he got himself mixed up in the hug. Then he got a hold of his papa by the chin and pulled it gently toward him and said “I love to eat ‘dem nanas too you know.” He whispered into his papa’s ear.

“Papa, do you think that we’ll get to see old Yellow Belly today?” asked Buttercup.

“Papa how come we never saw that little birdie no time?” asked Pumpkin. “Maybe I think so we’d never see his face...” before Pumpkin could continue Buttercup cut in.

“Oh no Papa! We’d see that ole Yellow Belly...I just know it Papa. Then she held Pumpkin by his floppy ears and beseeched him to believe that they will see the Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker. Beseech means you hold someone by the ears and tell them that they’ll see a thing that they don’t believe they’ll see. “You think we have enough nanas there in that picnic basket Papa Shnups?” She continued.

When it was settled that there were enough bananas...“because you know it’ll be a sad face time if you run out of nana’s in the middle way of a picnic!” she asked her papa one more time about the Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker.

“Papa do you think we’ll get to see that pretty birdie today?” She spoke quietly because she didn’t want Pumpkin to stop believing.

“I don’t know Sweet-Lumps,” said her papa as he lifted them both up to look out of the window. “Maybe you can make a big wish...maybe we can all make a big wish.”

Oooow I can make some big ones of those ones!” she said as she got ready to make a big wish.

“And Papa I can make big wishes too you know!” said Pumpkin as he pulled at his papa’s chin once again.


They walked up the Avenue which was quite busy. Papa held the picnic basket and Pumpkin and Buttercup held each other’s hands. Just before they entered the Park they saw a big brown horse standing at the entrance to the park.

“Hello Mr. Horsie!” greeted Buttercup. “We’re going to the park for a picnic and you can come too”. The horse looked very sad. “and we’re going to look for the Yellow Belly Sappy-Face...did you see the ‘yellow-belly’ anyplace Mr. Horsie?”

“No I’m sorry I didn’t little bunny rabbit, and I cannot go to your picnic because I have to work here for the rest of the day,” said Mr. Horse who found it hard to speak because there was a thick steel rod inside his mouth, he looked very despondent. ‘Despondent’ means a horse can’t go to a picnic when all he wants to do is go to a picnic.

“Oh Mr. Horsie I would love for you to come along on our picnic we’ve got lots of sammies and nice veggi-bibbles.” Said Buttercup trying to cheer up the big beautiful animal. The horse turned his head around to watch his driver who was standing against a light post having a drink from something in a brown paper bag. Maybe it was raspberry juice because it made his eyes very red.

“No you go along without me little bunny rabbit and I’ll stay here just in case the Yellow-Belly Sapsucker comes along,” said the horse.

“Well OK then,” said Buttercup and her papa lifted her to give the horse a big hug and kiss. She then took a tall crunchy carrot from the picnic basket and gave it to the animal. The horse took the carrot and smiled. His smile was so bright that you could barely make out the shining steel rod fastened through his mouth.


Once inside the Park they saw a bushy-tail squirrel that ran every which where with a big nut in his mouth.

“Hey there Mr. Screwy-Willy!” Said Buttercup as the squirrel ran up a tree and sat on a comfy branch. He was a young one born just last spring.

“I’m having a walnut for lunch.” Said he. “My mama told me where it was buried...right there over by that flower bed right over there!” And he began to munch on the big walnut.

“We’re going on a picnic and we’re going to look for the Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker, and we got lots of nanas and sammies and cup-cakes, all kinds of nice stuff right there in that picnic basket!” said Buttercup excitedly. “Did you see the old Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker Mr. Screwy-Willy?” she asked. The squirrel was quite occupied with his big walnut.

“I ain’t see no Yellow...I’m having a walnut right here...my mama tell me that it was buried right over by the flower bed right there...” said the young squirrel and he continued munching on his nut.

Further in the Park behind a long line of freshly painted green benches they saw a flock of pigeons being fed by an old woman with fat ankles.

“Hey Pidgy-Widgies! We’re going on a picnic and we’re going to look for the Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker and we got lots of nanas and sammies and all kinds of nice stuff right there in that picnic basket!” said Buttercup excitedly. “Did you see the old Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker Pidgy-Widgies?” she asked. The pigeons were quite busy eating all the food that the lady with fat ankles was feeding them. One of them took the time to answer, her but his mouth was so full of food that Buttercup didn’t understand what he said at all. She turned to her papa. “Papa I’m getting worried! No one is seeing that ole Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker!”

Just then a gang of black crows landed on top of a tall oak tree that leaned over the path. Buttercup tried to talk to them but they were making such a ruckus that she could not get a single word in.

They went up a little hill where they could see the big lake with the ducks and swans and cormorants and all agreed that they should have their picnic right there under a shady Yoshino Cherry. A Yoshino Cherry is a big tree with a little sign on it that says “Yoshino Cherry”.

Pumpkin walked under the tree and looked straight up.

“Papa, maybe one day when I’m big and tall I can climb all the way up that tree right there!” His papa picked up the little brown and white bunny and put him close to the tree so he could feel what it’s like to be up high. Pumpkin was a little apprehensive. ‘Apprehensive’ means a bunny is not really quite ready for getting up high in a tree. “Papa maybe I can climb this tree after we have some nanas and maybe you can put me back down closer to the picnic basket on the ground right there” said Pumpkin pointing to where the basket laid.

“Picnic Time!” Buttercup shouted. She yelled so hard that the raccoons all the way across the lake could hear her. Pretty soon there were some ducks joining them around the picnic basket. There were Mr. and Mrs. Duck and their new babies. Buttercup gave each little duckling a little hug. One little duckling jumped on Pumpkin’s back for a ride. Pumpkin was very shy and didn’t want to give the little downy quacker a ride so he sat put. Only the baby duck climbed up onto Pumpkin’s head and peered over to watch his chubby face. Pumpkin didn’t like too much what was happening because the duckling’s little webbed feet were still wet from swimming around in the lake. But when the little fuzz ball looked over at him and their eyes met he felt sort of fuzzy in his little bunny tummy. He had to kind of cross his eyes to see the duckling’s eyes and then all of a sudden he felt like hopping around the picnic basket to give the ducking a ride. The duckling was having so much fun that all his brothers and sisters decided to hop on. Buttercup jumped with delight and Mr. and Mrs. Duck laughed and cheered.

“Papa, that’s such a happy thing that it makes me want to sing a song!” said Buttercup.

“Then sing a song and we’ll all sing along with you!” said Papa.

“But Papa I don’t know any songs ‘bout some duckies on a fat-faced bunny’s back or anything like so!” she said as she appeared to be a little sad.

“Then maybe you can make one up,” said Papa, “you know how you’re good at that sort of thing,” he continued.

“Well you’re right about that,” she said confidently, “I come up with some good ones sometimes.” She boasted. Then she watched the little ducklings hopping onto Pumpkin’s back and some of them were falling off and rolling in the grass. She began to sing;

Sing a song, a happy song, a happy little sing-a-song,

Of some duckies riding on Mr. Pumpkin’s back,

And there goes one, and there goes another,

And every one is having lots of fun...

She swayed her shoulders from left to right and clapped her tiny bunny hands.

There’s one little duckie on the bunny’s head,

And another little duckie on the bunny’s back,

And a fat little one on his pumpkin sack

And there goes a one who fell on her bum

And she’s rolling on the grass there

Buttercup was having so much fun that she forgot all about the picnic basket. But she didn’t forget about the special someone that they came to see. She hopped into her papa’s arms,

“Oh Papa, if only the Ole Yellow Belly was here she could sing along with us!” She put her little head in her Papa’s chest. Then she sprung up when she remembered that she didn’t ask Mr. and Mrs. Duck if they saw the Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker. “Oh Mr. and Mrs. Duck did you see the Old Yellow Bellied Sapsucker any place today?”

“No we haven’t,” answered Mr. Duck in a quack.

Just then a sparrow flew in and landed on the black wire fence close by.

“Mrs. Sparrow, Mrs. Sparrow did you see the Yellow-Belly Sapsucker?” asked Buttercup. The little brown sparrow looked to the left and she looked to the right, and then she answered.

“Today is a very sunny day and I decided to take a bath in the sand!” Sometimes sparrows talk about something other than Yellow-Bellied Sapsuckers.

“Maybe you’ll like to have some sunflower seeds or maybe a cucumber sammy from our picnic basket?” offered Buttercup.

“Well since it’s a sunny day I think I’ll have some sunflower seeds.” Most of the time Sparrows respond correctly when sunflower seeds are offered.

It was time to setup the picnic and everyone helped. Pumpkin held one corner of the picnic blanket, Mrs. Duck held another and Buttercup held the third. Mrs. Sparrow flew down and helped with the last corner. It was spread out on the soft grass, but just before it was laid flat all the little ducklings ran under it. All except the one little duckling that remained on Pumpkin’s back.

“Hey you little duckies you better come out from under that picnic blanket!” shouted Buttercup as she lifted her corner of the blanket to see them. When she told them about the nanas in the picnic basket they all came out in a hurry.

Mr. & Mrs. Swan and their four cygnets climbed out of the lake and walked up the hill towards the picnic. The raccoon family came from way across the lake--they walked with their three cubs one behind the next on the outside ridge along Bow Bridge. Each one brought some stuff for the picnic. The swans brought a small bundle of nut weed, and some gooseberries, and the raccoons brought a bouquet of fragrant Linden blossoms. Sitting on one of the Linden blossoms was Mr. Bumble Bee and his two children. His boy had his head buried inside of a blossom and he wiggled his feet as he ate some nectar deep inside the flower. His girl bumble bee appeared sad and somewhat angry.

“What’s the matter little girl bumble bee?” asked Buttercup as she put her nosie very close to the distraught little bee. (Distraught means a bee’s not happy). Buttercup gave a soft poke to her brother’s bum who was still buried halfway inside the blossom.

“Well we were sitting high up on a tree, my papa, my brother and me, and we were having some lunch on these blossoms, and all of a sudden someone broke off all our blossoms and put them in this basket!” cried the little girl bumble bee, who turned and gave a mean look to Mrs. Raccoon.

Mrs. Raccoon looked surprised and ashamed.

“We’re sorry little bumble bee, we shall never pick any blossoms again, especially if there are pretty little bumble bees on them,” said Mr. Raccoon who hugged his wife and his three cubs. One of his cubs climbed up his papa’s back to look into the basket with the blossoms.

“I would like to sit next to you at the picnic,” said the little raccoon cub to the little girl bee. She looked at the handsome little cub and blushed a little. When a little girl bumble bee blushes, it means she likes the idea of sitting next to the little boy raccoon. Buttercup gave another soft poke to the little boy bee who pulled his head out slowly from the blossom. His face was covered in sticky nectar. He looked at Buttercup and smiled and she put her nosie up close to him and he gave her a little kiss, only his face got stuck to her nosie and his sister had to help pull him off.

Everyone sat down around the picnic basket and had a saucer of goodies.

“Now it’s your turn to have something to eat Buttercup, you haven’t eaten anything,” said Papa to his little bunny who was only concerned with serving a cucumber sandwich to Mrs. Duck, and a small bunch of red grapes for the raccoon cubs, and a sprig of fresh dill for another excited mouth.

“Oh Papa who can think of eating when you know who ain’t no place to be seen?


“What’s that?” asked Mr. Bumble Bee as he hovered in the air and pointed toward the sky. There was something in the sky and it was yellow, and blue, and red and there were some purple parts too.

“What’s that Papa?” asked Pumpkin who still had his little duckling friend clinging to his neck. He reached up so his papa could lift them both higher. As his papa lifted them, the duckling climbed up on Pumpkin’s head and held on to one of his floppy ears.

“I know, I know!” shouted the youngest of the raccoon cubs, “that right there is a airy-plane!” he looked back timidly to his siblings to see if they agreed with him, then he turned to look at his little bumble bee friend with a very proud expression. Timidly means a young raccoon isn’t too sure if a yellow and blue and red and purple thing up in the sky is an airy-plane.

“That ain’t no airy-plane up there boy!” said one of Mr. & Mrs. Swan’s little cygnets. “That’s a mota-sickle up there!” The little cygnet appeared proud that he knew what the thing was. “I know all ‘bout mota-sickles and all that stuff!” he continued. Then he dipped his head low to the ground and began to run in and around everyone making a very silly sound with his bill. “Brrrrrrr, brrrrrr!” he went.

“That aint no mota-sickle! That up there is a shrishmush tree!” cried another voice.

“No it ain’t a shrishmush tree!” yelled young rat, “it’s a...it’s a...” he continued nervously.

“It’s a what?” asked Buttercup who put her hands on her waist and looked straight at the bashful little rat. The little chubby face rat immediately hid himself behind his mother.

“I aint telling you nothin!” he covered his face with his mother’s dress, and then he peered out on the other side of her. “How come you only like to ask me a whole bunch of things?” he yelled, then he covered his face again peering out of one side, then the other. Buttercup leaned over to one side to catch a glimpse of the little rat who quickly peered out of the other side.

“I’m going to catch you!” she whispered aloud to him.

“You aint catching me!” he said and he covered his entire body under Mrs. Rat’s dress. “How come we aren’t having some of that pie there?” From where Buttercup was standing only the little rat’s tiny arm could be seen from behind his mother’s dress pointing to a large black raspberry pie sitting flat on the picnic blanket.

“Those are balloons floating up there,” said Papa finally. Someone probably had a party and let them loose.

“How come we don’t have any balloons on our picnic Papa?” asked Pumpkin as he gently pulled his papa’s chin toward his little face.

Just at that moment Mrs. Duck began quacking very loud because she got quite upset. Mr. Duck put his arm around her and tried to calm her down. Papa knew why Mrs. Duck got upset so he began to explain to Pumpkin,

“Oh no Pumpkin, we shall never have balloons on our picnic,” he said to the attentive little bunny rabbit.

“But why Papa, balloons are so pretty and they got red ones and blue ones and all kinds of ones there...” he asked, as he looked into his papa’s eyes.

“And-and-and they got some red ones too, and they go up high in the sky there!” said his little ride-along duckling friend.

“Yes they are pretty and they do go up high, but sometimes they break and make a loud scary noise!” explained Papa. “Then the little pieces get everywhere...” he continued.

“And little ducklings eat them and get very, very sick!” cried Mrs. Duck.

“And little raccoons swallow them nasty things too!” cried Mrs. Raccoon.

“And that’s why we don’t have balloons on our picnics,” said Papa and he put the two little ones gently on the picnic blanket. Pumpkin’s little duckling friend jumped off and went over to his mother, who was still very upset. He nestled his head under her wing. Pumpkin followed his friend close behind and gave Mrs. Duck a soft pat on her wing.

In the midst of all that was happening Buttercup heard a faint whistle in the big London Plane next to the picnic blanket. She looked up and saw a small bird up there, first on a high branch, then it flew to a low one. There on the low branch the bird stood still as a soft breeze ruffled the soft downy feathers on her small face. Buttercup stood very still with her mouth agape. (Agape means that a bunny can’t believe that she’s seeing a thing that she’s actually seeing). Everyone was paying attention to the balloons and could not see what poor Buttercup was seeing. She was too shocked however to draw their attention to it.

But how did she know that this was the bird that she craved to see for so long. How could she be sure if she couldn’t even tell what color the bird’s belly was?

And indeed see could not, for there was so little light. Mr. Sun was far from setting, however a big puffy cloud got right in front of his fat yellow face. The thing with clouds sometimes is that they could get in front of Mr. Sun and make it really hard for a bunny to see what color a little bird’s belly is.

Not but a few moments later it seemed like the cloud got a little push, from the wind perhaps, and it began to move. Sometimes the wind does stuff like that if it sees a bunny rabbit having a hard time making out the color of a little bird’s belly.

Gradually there was a little bit of sunlight beginning to appear on the green leaves of the London Plane, and the little bird looked up because there was perhaps a dragonfly passing by above her. And as she raised her little head to see if it was indeed a dragonfly, the patch of sunlight struck her little body and made it quite bright, but her belly was still hidden. That’s the thing with little birds sometimes; they show off their bellies all the day long except for when a little bunny rabbit wants to see what color their belly is. Buttercup was hopeful so she stood up almost on her tippy toes, with her little paws clenched up by her little mouth, and the little bird turned just enough to make the sun sparkle in her eye. She turned some more and her belly turned also, and the sunlight bounced off it to show the yellowiest, belliest anyone had ever seen.

She sure had a yellow belly, but was she the real yellow belly sapsucker? When Buttercup looked around she saw that everyone was staring up at the bird that was perched on the low branch. Then she heard someone behind her speak,

“How do we know it’s a Yellow Bellied Sapsucker?” It could have been Mr. Raccoon who asked the question, but Buttercup wasn’t sure. She knew it was Old Yellow Belly up there because she could feel it in her tummy, that’s how. She could even close her eyes and know because a special feeling in her tummy made her know. But for the rest of observers it takes more than having a yellow belly to be a Yellow Bellied Sapsucker.

 And just then, while the sunlight was still making her belly glow with that soothing golden color, she leaned her little head down toward the front of the bough and looked keenly at something that was flowing very slowly down the side of the branch. It was something thick and clear and it sparkled in the sunshine. The pretty little bird with the yellow belly put her little beak closer to the substance and just before she made contact, she glanced over to ole Buttercup. From where Buttercup was standing on the ground it certainly looked like a winkie eye she got from the little bird. Then the bird put her little beak right into the thick liquid and sucked. By the happy expression on her small face it appeared to be the best sap that she ever sucked that spring.



The End.