Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2003-16

Common name:

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Scientific name: Sphyrapicus varius
Date: 1/19/03
Time: 9:30 AM
Length of time observed: 45 minutes
Number: 1
Age: Adult
Sex: Male
Location: Lytle Ranch
County: Washington
Distance to bird: Within 25 feet
Optical equipment: 10x42 B and L Elites
Weather: Calm and Partly cloudy
Light Conditions: Good
Detailed description of bird: Obvious Sapsucker, Red forecrown black on the back of crown, White stripe coming from the postocular area around the back of the nape. It was solid white.  No red on the nape at all.  There was a black stripe coming from below the eye that went down the sides of the neck.  Below that a white submoustachial stripe came down the sides of the neck from above the bill.It had a black malar stripe that was solid all the way down to a black breast patch.  The throat was solid red with possibly a tiny amount of white below the bill that could only be seen when the bird looked straight up.  That may have been the base of the feathers.  The white stripes on the head seemed to be wider the the black ones on the head, which is different from Red-naped.  The lower breast and belly was washed yellow with some black spoting along the sides.  The wings were black with a solid white wing patch on the greater and median coverts.  The primary and secondaries had white barring that gave them a spotted look.  The back was barred black and white with a narrow black stripe down the middle. [see photos]
Song or call & method of delivery:  
Behavior: Working up and down on the trunk of a tree to sap wells it had made.
Habitat: Orchard and desert Mesquite Habitat
Similar species and
how were they eliminated:
The Red-naped Sapsucker is the only species that I really had to eliminate. They say the female of that species
can have a all red throat and be without red on the nape, but the chances of one having both is very unlikely. A male Red-naped has a broken malar stripe that lets the red throat come through. And the Red-naped's back
has less white on it and the barring is more in two rows.
Previous experience with this & similar species: I have saw many Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers in the East and a few in California.  A lot of Red-naped Sapsuckers all over the West
References consulted: The Sibley guide, National Geographic and also photos on the internet
Description from: Notes made later
Observer: Larry Tripp
Observer's address: 332 Wells Fargo RD. Brookside, Utah 84782
Observer's e-mail address:
Other observers who independently identified
this bird:
Rick Fridell, Prisilla and Steve Summers. It was also seen by a few other birders from Northern Utah
Date prepared: 5/14/03  (General Public)
Additional material:  
Additional comments: Steve and Rick were also able to get some photos of the bird.  I saw the bird 6 different times between 1/19/03 and 3/22/03