Thursday, April 18, 2013

Sap-suckas!

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.
Red-naped Sapsucker
"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. 
Red-naped Sapsucker
          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.
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
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.

Red-naped Sapsucker
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
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.
What birds make you go cuckoo?

15 comments:

  1. I get to help birders a little at the canyon. But I was very excited to see the lazuli buntings the other day. Their visit is brief.

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  2. Haha, i love the reference to the long hours spending with bird guides and google. I do that with weeds sometimes and butterflies too. We have a very uncommon bird wit a red crest at the head like that, but i don't know how the body design looks like. My nephew and I call it woodpecker because it has a hole on the trunk of a big tree. I went there many times, but i can't see it there like my nephew. So until now i have seen it only once, but not in the same hole as it is housed now. This is my first time to read sap sucker!

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  3. Great post on the Sapsuckers, Chris! I would like to add the red-naped Sapsucker to my life list. Have a great weekend and happy birding!

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  4. Muy guapo este pájaro carpintero.. Muy similar a nuestro Picapinos.. Un saludo..

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  5. wow! cool red-nape! have only seen yellow-bellies here - and not often. :)

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  6. Such an ingenious group of birds, the Sapsuckers.
    Great post Chris.

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  7. Oh wow!! I have heard of these but never seen one. Thanks!!

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  8. Love seeing the sapsucker... I haven't put out fruit at this point... But--I did get some mealworms for my Bluebirds (which make me go cuckoo)... AND--I got some peanuts in the shell for my Blue Jays... SO--guess I need to put out some fruit sometime!!!!

    Have a great weekend.
    Betsy

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  9. I've always enjoyed looking at your photos of the native birds. Interesting!

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  10. Thanks for setting your post out this way as the differences between the Sapsuckers become so much clearer. The differences between the various Thrush species give me a hard time.

    Enjoy your weekend:)

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  11. Woodpeckers are my favorites with the hummingbirds of course... so your post made me smile.

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  12. Who says birdwatching isn't a blood sport?!?!?! And how do you tactfully tell someone they're wrong, when they're sure they're right?! I take the cowards way out and leave it to Pilchard!

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  13. Beautiful little birds Chris and great photos, as always :) You do get some really lovely colourful species :)

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  14. Thank you for making this distinction. I'm sure that anyone making such mistakes out in the field would love your input! I know I would!

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Thanks for stopping by!