Date: 9/30/17 8:51 pm From: Nickel, James B <James.Nickel...> Subject: Re: Morton County Question
Thanks to all for responding to my question about sapsuckers. I believe the general advice is a person should be wary about Red-naped Sapsucker identification in Kansas.
I remember some discussion about the Lawrence bird from the past, but I never remembered it was thought to be a hybrid. So, the link to the article was very helpful. The summery was very good in pointing out 2 things important to separating Red-naped from Yellow-bellied in the field: (1) The proportion of black vs white on the back. (2) presence or absence of red in the dark malar in adult males.
One last thing, I observed a Red-breasted sapsucker in Alaska. The bird exhibited flycatcher behavior. It would sit on a branch, then go after an insect and flutter. It repeated this several times. I have never seen a woodpecker do this before or since. It seemed odd. Thanks again Jim
From: Birds & Their Habitats in Kansas [mailto:<KSBIRD-L...>] On Behalf Of David Seibel
Sent: Saturday, September 30, 2017 9:34 PM
Subject: Re: Morton County Question
I was just writing a reply with the same reference, Chuck! Here's the relevant quote from the article, which refers to the mystery sapsucker that I found in December 2001 on the Lawrence CBC. It looked superficially like a male Red-naped but actually had too much red on the head, breast, and throat - and turned out to be a female (!) that was at least 4 years old.
It is conceivable that the abnormal amount of red on the throat and upper
> breast are the result of ... an unknown aging phenomenon, perhaps
> related to reduced hormone levels (e.g., estrogen). Older females in
> some species may acquire male-like plumage, e.g., Summer Tanager (Pyle
> 1997, Owens and Short 1995).
As far as I know, this phenomenon remains unknown in sapsuckers, however.
The Lawrence bird was almost certainly a hybrid Yellow-bellied x Red-breasted (not Red-naped) Sapsucker, likely representing the only genes of a Red-breasted Sapsucker ever to have been transported to Kansas. The article also reviews field ID characters for sapsuckers.
Tony Leukering (https://goo.gl/P5DNuQ) discusses a similar pitfall to the one Chris mentioned, but with the species reversed: Some female Red-naped Sapsuckers have almost completely red throats, making them look like male Yellow-bellied. He also reviews helpful field marks.