Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2021-05

Common name:

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Scientific name: Sphyrapicus varius
Date: 1/12/2021
Time: 2:00pm
Length of time observed: 10 minutes
Number: 1
Age: juvenile
Sex: male
Location: Ophir Canyon
County: Tooele
Latilong: 40.371757, -112.248638.
Elevation: 6,600ft
Distance to bird: 3m
Optical equipment: Nikon 10x42 binoculars
Weather: sunny, calm, mild, 37F
Light Conditions:  
Description:        Size of bird: medium sized woodpecker
(Description:)       Basic Shape: typical woodpecker
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: Mostly mottled brown
(Description:)            Bill Type: chisel shaped
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
There is a house on the east end of the town of Ophir that has feeders, so I always stop there to see what birds were around and as usual it was very active. I had heard the tapping of a woodpecker but was unable to locate it, but as I was heading back to my car I heard the distinctive "mew" call of a Sapsucker, so I turned around and went back to the feeder house and in an apple tree across the street I heard the call and saw a sapsucker flush and fly up into the cottonwoods nearby. I tried to get a look at it to ID, but as usual it went into hiding, going behind the trunk and branches, all I was certain was it wasn't a Red-breasted or male Williamson's. So I just waited around for a bit hoping it would give better looks, and in a few minutes it returned to the apple tree and began eating apples again giving excellent looks. Immediately I noted it was in juvenile plumage with a mottled brown back and belly, but did have a red crown and throat, but no red on the nape, making a juvenile male Yellow-bellied.
(see photos)
Song or call & method of delivery: Heard giving the "mew" call several times
Behavior: Feeding on apples in a tree roadside, also went up into a cottonwood
Habitat: Riparian corridor along a small creek in a deep canyon, but a few houses around with some cultivated trees
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
Red-naped Sapsucker: Should have completed 1st formative molt by October, red on nape, less white on the back

Williamson's Sapsucker(female): should not have red on crown little or no striping on face

Red-breasted Sapsucker: Should have completed 1st formative molt, more red on head, throat and breast
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
References consulted: memory
Description from: From photo(s) taken at the time of the sighting
Observer: Bryant Olsen
Observer's address: 84102
Observer's e-mail address: **
Other observers who independently identified this bird: Lauri Taylor found it later that day
Date prepared: 1/13/2021
Additional material: Photos
Additional comments: eBird checklist: