The nightmares of birding. Is it? Or is it not? Knowing the field marks on a bird can spare one hours of headaches at home surrounded by bird guides and rubbing sore eyes at the google machine.
This bird above is actually the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. I found this guy over winter break. I also scratched my head the first time I met this bird. They look the same!!! Where's the yellow belly??!!! And who named this bird anyway???!!!! It was a bit of a letdown. I thought it would have beautiful yellow belly markings. In any case, two of these birds made one of our local parks home for several weeks in Tucson. This gave me enough time to study up on the bird. I went back several days to observe them up close.
Here are my field notes. I've placed both the Red-naped and Yellow-bellied together. Red-naped. The bird on the left hardly has any framing around its red throat. It also has a red-nape on the back of its neck. See beginning pics. Yellow-bellied. It has a defined black FRAMED red throat. It lacks the red patch and has white on the back of its neck...nape. Whatever:) Over time, and with observation, these birds become easier to separate. The ladies were thankful for my help and we had fun hanging out chatting. And for myself? I became a little excited that I could help others correctly ID a bird with field marks. Usually it's the other way around:) Look!!! A Painted Redstart! And while this little red number distracted the birders, the yellow capped man slipped off into the night searching for owls.......afterall, I still have a lot more ground and birds to cover.
"That's the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker!", cried the eager birder.
"Are you sure?", said her skeptical friend.
"Yes yes. That's the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker!"
"Whoa....not so quick.", replies Woodsy Owl.
Most of the time, I'm silent. But on this one occasion, I had to open my mouth. They were friendly people and I needed to correct the error. The above bird is actually a Red-naped Sapsucker.
What birds make you go cuckoo?