Kent Valley's "Mystery Sapsucker"

Birdking88 at Birdking88 at
Fri Jan 4 16:37:50 PST 2002

Hey Tweeters,
Carol Schulz and I decided last night to try once again for this possible
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, and this time with great success. We arrived on
location slightly before 730hrs and awaited sunrise. Just before 740hrs, we
along with Brad Wilson observed the sapsucker in question for 10 minutes in
the two fruit trees where it had been seen previously. It was quite vocal,
and flew between these trees actively in the low light. It then flew over to
the west (?) to an unknown location. Quite a few other birders showed up
shortly thereafter, but the bird was nowhere in sight until about 45 minutes
later when Jim Flynn and I watched the bird for quite a while in very good
light in the same large fruit trees. I got some pretty good video of the bird
and will post it to my webpage soon. This bird could easily be a Red-naped x
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. It does have some juvenile plumage (for instance,
the buffy brown on the back), but seems to largely be out of it and into
adult male. It's likely molting at this time, which is not in line with
either species' molt pattern. Several features on this bird point to each
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker:
Confined red throat with solid black borders; some juvenile plumage present,
and a pure white nape.
Red-naped Sapsucker:
Two obvious "columns" of speckling on back rather than an evenly mottled
back; darkish crown (though it did have some light speckling).
So it is an interesting bird indeed. I'm fairly sure that it is not a pure
Red-naped, so in my opinion it's either a Yellow-bellied or a hybrid. Near
this spot, I also found a large (approx. 50 birds) flock of Golden-crowned
Sparrows, and this flock also contained a tan-striped WHITE-THROATED SPARROW
and a HARRIS'S SPARROW. Also in the area were:
1 American Kestrel
2 Red-breasted Sapsuckers
1 intergrade flicker

The rest of the day was spent exploring the Orting area, with very little
activety birdwise. The only somewhat notable species found was an Eurasian
Wigeon with many Americans near the small town of Crocker.

Charlie Wright, 13
Birdking88 at
Sumner, WA

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