Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2017-03

Common name:

Red-breasted Sapsucker

Scientific name: Sphyrapicus ruber
Date: Jan 5 and 6, 2017
Time: AM and PM
Length of time observed: 5 to 10 minutes each time
Number: 1
Age: unknown
Sex: unsure
Location: [2689 Imperial Street] Salt Lake City, UT
County: Salt Lake
Latilong: unknown
Elevation: about 4500 feet
Distance to bird: 12-30 feet
Optical equipment: binoculars
Weather: very cold, snow on some branches and several inches on the ground
Light Conditions: overcast one day, sunny the next
Description:        Size of bird: smaller than a robin, much larger than a downy woodpecker
(Description:)       Basic Shape: woodpecker shape
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: striking red head, neck, chest, light yellow belly, black and white back and wings
(Description:)            Bill Type: long pointed
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
Looks just like picture of red-breasted sapsuckers in Sibley's guide! I have seen it three times now, feeding on apples which seem to be its preferred food, or the suet logs. The white speck behind its eye is very obvious as is the white strip at top of beak. This white stripe is the length of those Sibley describes as the Southern variety. The back of the bird's head has a little bit of black on it. The back of the bird is quite black with a little bit of bars or stripes and the long white wing stripe is very prominent. I have had a good view of the light yellow, lightly streaked belly
(see photos)
Song or call & method of delivery: it called out this morning as it flew into the apple tree, a high pitched sound, not as sharp or long a sound as a flicker, very distinctive. I have never heard this call before
Behavior: perched in apple tree on a branch to reach the apples or clinging as woodpeckers do to the suet log. Swoops a bit in flight as it took off for a higher tree
Habitat: back yard has aspens and fruit trees. Neighboring yards have tall evergreens. Our street lined with very tall deciduous trees
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
entire head, neck, chest mostly a bright red. The white bar above the beak is broken by the red and there's no white eye bar so I know it's not a red-naped sapsucker
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
I have seen many downys and flickers in the neighborhood; hairy woodpeckers and red-naped sapsucker in the mountains, pileated woodpecker on the coast. Never seen this bird till now, very distinctive
References consulted: Sibley Filed guide to western north america, National Geographic and National Audubon guides for Western Region
Description from: From photo(s) taken at the time of the sighting
Observer: Sylvia WIlcox
Observer's address: 2689 Imperial STreet
Observer's e-mail address: **
Other observers who independently identified this bird:  
Date prepared: Jan. 6, 2017
Additional material: Photos
Additional comments: photos aren't great since it's with my phone camera but I submitted photos to eBird