Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # O-2003-03

Common name:

Acorn Woodpecker

Scientific name: Melanerpes formicivorus
Date: 31 May 2003
Time: 1300 hrs
Length of time observed: 10-15 minutes
Number: one
Age: adult
Sex: male
Location: west side of Utah SR 12, a little north of Boulder town, between mile markers 93 and 94
Latilong: Garfield
Elevation: 7000 ft (estimated)
Distance to bird: 150 ft (estimated)
Optical equipment: observed through binoculars (7-10 power depending on the observer) and 16-36x scope
Weather: cloudy, light breeze, intermittent sprinkles of rain, temperature 50 degrees (estimated)
Light Conditions: bird in open during observation
Detailed description of bird: Seen in flight, the upper part of the bird appeared entirely black with two large white wing patches and a large white patch on the lower back. Perched, the "clown" face pattern was apparent, that is, black around bill, white on forehead, cheek, and throat; black post-ocular and nape; eye light; bright red crown; mantle, wings, and tail black; lower back white; upper breast black becoming mottled with white on lower breast; underside not observed well because of the position of the bird.
Song or call & method of delivery: Called once while perched on top of snag
Behavior: As we were walking north along the road, the bird came from the right side of the road and behind us and flew across in front of us to the west side of the road. When we arrived at the dead ponderosa pine tree in the meadow, the bird was perched on top of the tree. It moved around to various spots near the top of the tree, pecking as though it were feeding. We did not actually see it eat anything. After about 15 minutes, the bird flew off to the west and was not seen again.
Habitat: Pine oak woodland surrounding a well grazed meadow which contained a few scattered shrubs and a live ponderosa pine and a dead one which were each estimated to be about 50 feet tall
Similar species and
how were they eliminated:
Adult Red-headed Woodpecker (not likely) has head entirely red. Northern Flicker has no white on face, is barred brown on the back, and lacks the white wing patches. Lewis's Woodpecker also lacks white on the face, wings, and lower back. Sapsuckers (Red-naped would be most likely at this location) have a different black and white face pattern and barred pattern on the back. Williamson's Sapsucker male has black upper back and white lower back, as does the Acorn Woodpecker, but has the face almost entirely black and has no red on the crown. Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers also have a black and white face pattern but lack the white wing patches and have a white stripe along the back rather than just a white rump patch. Three-toed Woodpecker has ladder pattern on the back, lacks the white wing patches, and had no red.
Previous experience with this & similar species: I have observed Acorn Woodpeckers in California, Arizona, and Nevada. I have observed all the above named similar species in various locations, primarily in the western United States.
References consulted: National Geographic Society Field Guide to the Birds of North America; Stokes Field Guide to Western Birds; Peterson Field Guide to Western Birds
Description from: From Memory
Observer: Carolyn Titus
Observer's address: 5909 Gipsy Avenue, Las Vegas, Nevada  89107-3660
Observer's e-mail address:
Other observers who independently identified
this bird:
Richard and Karen Barrett, William Hoppes, and eight other members of the University of Nevada Las Vegas/Red Rock Audubon Society trip to Capital Reef National Park
Date prepared: 12 June 2003
Additional material:  
Additional comments: