Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2024-20

Common name:

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Scientific name: Sphyrapicus various
Date: 14DEC2023
Time: 0852
Length of time observed: ~30 minutes
Number: 1
Age: Immature.
Sex: Unknown. (but leaning toward male due to some red coming into throat whereas a female would typically have a white throat.
Location: Castle Valley
County: Grand
Latilong:  36.6560, -109.4256198
Elevation: ><4,200'
Distance to bird:  ~30'
Optical equipment: 8.5x42 bins 20-60x scope.
Weather: 36F Cloudy. BWS 1 Light air.
Light Conditions:  Fair to good. No glare.
Description:        Size of bird: Smallish.
(Description:)       Basic Shape: Vertical woodpecker.
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: Some red on head. Black, gray, white, brownish on body and tail.
(Description:)            Bill Type: Sharp chisel shape.
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
Head, crown brownish, mottled gray and white. FEB photo showing some red on crown.
Face, strongly marked with broad supercillium and malar.
Throat, grayish with incomplete black border. FEB photo showing some red.
Belly and flanks, whitish with gray, messy pattern.
Back and wings, mottled, messy, black and whitish with decidedly brownish cast.
Tail, black with some white spots and bars.
(see photos)
Song or call & method of delivery: Silent.
Behavior: Hitching up and around tree trunks by clinging with feet and propping with tail.
Delicately tapping/drilling to create or re-open sap wells.
Flight, flapping and arcing gliding.
Habitat: Small stand of pines, heavily patterned with parallel, horizontal 'wells' drilled courtesy of sapsuckers. Mature cottonwood and Russian Olive trees adjacent. 100 yards away is the dense riparian corridor of Castle Creek.
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
Immature Red-napped Sapsuckers resemble adults at this time of year, barring the lack of the black breastband.
Juvenile Williamson's Sapsuckers would resemble adults by NOV.
Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers are distinctly black and white with red limited to hind-crown on males. Both have clear white backs.
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
Familiar with Yellow-bellied Sapsucker from time spent East of the Mississippi River.
I have 2 records of YBSA accepted by the UBRC, 19DEC2014, 19DEC2015.
Quite familiar with Red-naped and Williamson's Sapsuckers from decades spent in UT.
References consulted: Nat Geo Field Guide to Birds.
Cornell Lab of Ornithology Birds of the World.
Sibley Birds West.
Kaufman Field Guide to Advanced Birding.
ABA Birding magazine NOV/DEC 2006 "Variation in Red-naped and Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers".
Description from: From memory
From photo(s) taken at the time of the sighting
Observer: Steve Heinrich
Observer's address: HC64 BOX2913 Castle Valley UT 84532-9613
Observer's e-mail address: **
Other observers who independently identified this bird: na
Date prepared: 7MAY2024
Additional material: Photos
Additional comments: Reported to eBird 14DEC2023 -Confirmed
[15 Dec 2023 & 16 Dec 2023]

Reported to eBird 18FEB2024