Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2003-

Common name:

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Scientific name: Sphyrapicus varius
Date: 1/25, 1/29, and 3/18/03
Time: 9:00 - 10:00 am
Length of time observed: ~1 hour
Number: 1
Age: Adult
Sex: Male
Location: Beaver Dam Wash, Lytle Ranch
County: Washington
Latilong: 19
Elevation: ~850 m
Distance to bird: 5-30m
Optical equipment:  20x - 60x Kowa Scope (TSN 823), 10x42 binoculars
Weather: Clear, calm
Light Conditions: in shade on trunk of a fruit tree
Detailed description of bird: Body shape of small to medium sized woodpecker. Large stout black bill. Black legs and feet. Overall coloration black and white. Breast and belly fine blend of black and white vermiculations. Black wings with large white wing patch on coverts, and white barring on primaries and secondaries visible as white rows when perched. Tail deeply notched with white spots/barring down median and black edges. Back with extensive white barring separated by an irregular thin black median. White barring on back and upper breast tinged with yellowish/golden hue. Head bodly patterned with alternating black and white stripes and red forehead/crown and red throat. Red crown with a complete black border. White stripe on supercilium area extending back from eye and widening and connecting at back of head/nape. Black eye stripe extending back from eye and becoming indistinct towards nape. White stripe starting above bill and extending through cheek and curving down onto breast!. Red throat with complete and distinct black border (malar stripe connecting with thick black bib on lower throat/ upper breast). [see photos]
Song or call & method of delivery: silent
Behavior: Typical sapsucker behavior, working sapwells on trunk of a fruit tree in orchard at Lytle Ranch. Very timid, and easily flushed. When flushed it would fly off and disappear into the cottonwoods along Beaver Dam Wash.
Habitat: Old orchard and Cottonwood/ Ash riparian area along Beaver Dam Wash.
Similar species and
how were they eliminated:
Red-naped Sapsucker: Very similar to Red-naped Sapsucker however with more white on head and back. Red throat with complete black border, and completely lacked red on nape. Occasionally worn female Red-naped Sapsuckers lack red on nape (usually in late summer). Also occasionally female Red-napes may have a complete black border around red throat, but the chance that a single bird would show both of these characteristics is remote, especially in winter. Back with more white barring than typical Red-naped Sapsucker and more within the range of Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers. After studied this bird through a spotting scope, I was convinced this was a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.
Previous experience with this & similar species: I've seen many Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers in Kansas, Florida, New Hampshire, Texas, North Carolina, etc.
References consulted: Kaufman Advanced Birding.
Description from: Notes taken at time of sighting
Observer: Rick Fridell
Observer's address: 3505 West 290 North, Hurricane, UT 84737
Observer's e-mail address:
Other observers who independently identified
this bird:
Larry Tripp found this bird on 1/19/03. Larry, Kevin Wheeler and I returned and studied it on 1/25/03.
Date prepared: 5/16/03  (General Public)
Additional material: photos
Additional comments: I last saw this sapsucker in the area on 3/18/03. I have many additional photos if anyone is interested.