Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2005-

Common name:

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Scientific name: Sphyrapicus varius
Date: 10/16/2004
Time: 9:00 a.m.
Length of time observed: 10 minutes
Number: 1
Age: Adult
Sex: Male
Location: Welcome Springs
County: Washington
Distance to bird: 10 yards
Optical equipment: Pentax 10x42 Binoculars, Pentax 8x42 Binoculars, Bausch & Lomb Scope
Weather: Sunny, slightly breezy
Light Conditions: Bright
Description:        Size of bird:  
(Description:)       Basic Shape:  
(Description:)  Overall Pattern:  
(Description:)            Bill Type:  
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
The bird's shape and size were typical of a sapsucker species.
The bird had a long and thin black bill.
It's forehead was bright red, bordered by a thin black line in the front and widening to a thick black border at the rear edge of the red on the top of the head.
The bird had a white stripe which started below the black-bordered red forehead just above the eyes and went back across the face toward the nape.
There was a pinkish red nape on the back of the head.
A black stripe through the eyes started at the front edge of the red forehead, went across the face below the white stripe mentioned above, and met at the back of the head below the pink nape.
The bird had a red throat which was circular in shape when viewed from the front. (The red throat was not elongated onto the sides of the neck.) This red throat was bordered in black which widened beneath the throat onto the upper breast. There were several flecks of white in the black of the upper breast, but otherwise there was a complete border of black around the red throat. Surrounding this black border was a wide white border starting above the bird's bill, angling back across the lower face and then angling back toward the front beneath the wide black mark on the upper breast.
There was extensive white barring on the black back of this bird, and each wing had a large white patch.
The central belly of the bird was observed briefly and appeared pale yellow.
Song or call & method of delivery: Call: "Kwarr" heard 4 or 5 times in a series. Also, tapping: 3 or 4 uniformly spaced taps, then a couple of quick "double" taps.
Behavior: This bird was vigorously calling and tapping as described above. Even though there were several Red-naped Sapsuckers in the area, this was the only bird vocalizing and vigorously tapping. It was extremely skittish and active and would change branches and/or trees with the slightest movement or noise from us.
Habitat: Desert vegetation and trees on the hillside above a small wash near a spring.
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
Elimination: Even though the bird observed had a pinkish red nape, we decided it was not a Red-naped Sapsucker because of the very small and round red throat patch which was completely bordered in black.
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
Very familiar with Red-naped Sapsuckers. Have observed Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers on several occasions in other states.
References consulted: Sibley, National Geographic
Description from: Notes made later
Observer: Kathy and Joel Beyer
Observer's address: 1719 Hillcrest Avenue, Salt Lake City, UT 84106
Observer's e-mail address:
Other observers who independently identified this bird: None
Date prepared: 06/11/2005
Additional material:  
Additional comments: No_additional_Materials