Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2016-37

Common name:

Red-breasted Sapsucker

Scientific name: Sphyrapicus ruber
Date: September 27, 2016
Time: 10:45
Length of time observed: 20 minutes
Number: 1
Age: Adult
Sex: Unsure
Location: Lytle Ranch - Cottonwoods west of entrance gate
County: Washington
Distance to bird: Watched it almost directly above us in the tall cottonwoods.
Optical equipment: Nikon Monarch 10X42 Binoculars, Canon 7D w/ Canon 100-400mm lens.
Weather: It was already quite warm. Calm conditions with a slight, occassional wind continuing from the previous days.
Light Conditions: Good lighting.
Description:        Size of bird: 8-10 in.
(Description:)       Basic Shape: Typical woodpecker/sapsucker shape.
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: Extensive red on the head and breast, limited white patch extending from the bill, golden yellow rows extending down a black back.
(Description:)            Bill Type: Medium sized bill for a woodpecker.
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
The bird was seen and compared with 4-5 other Sapsuckers. One of which was a hybrid Red-naped X Red-breasted giving us nice comparisons. It had a very bright red head which extended down onto the breast leading into a yellowish was on the belly. Black back accented with rows of limited golden/yellow barring. White patch was very limited on the face, extending only a short ways away from the bill. Large white patches on the sides of the wings. Nape was almost all red.

Appeared to be an individual of the "northern" race.
(see photos)
Song or call & method of delivery:  
Behavior: Was pecking near the tops of several large cottonwoods west of the parking area just before the gate. It was seen with at least four other Sapsuckers.
Habitat: Tall cottonwoods in desert wash.
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
Red-naped Sapsucker: Completely Red-head and extensive red reaching down onto the breast eliminated Red-naped as did the limited golden barring on the back. No evident signs of hybridization either. All of the field marks seemed to match up for a solid adult 'Northern' Red-breasted Sapsucker.
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
First time seeing one in Utah, but I have been able to see them a few times in the Pacific north west as well as in California.
References consulted: Sibley Guide to Birds.
Description from: From photo(s) taken at the time of the sighting
Observer: Kendall Watkins
Observer's address: 2622 W Dry Creek Drive, Riverton, Utah
Observer's e-mail address: **
Other observers who independently identified this bird: Jon Watkins
Date prepared: October 2, 2016
Additional material: Photos
Additional comments: