Date: 3/5/18 1:48 pm
From: Marlene A Condon via va-bird <va-bird...>
Subject: Re: [Va-bird] Red-naped Sapsucker
Hi Frank,
Thanks so much for writing.  I didn't know we had California birders on here!!!!
I have some questions, please.
(1)   When you say that "this bird looks good for an normal adult male Yellow-bellied Sapsucker", are you referring to the birds in the Great Basin where you have surveyed for years?  I have to say that the bird in my photo does not look like any Yb Sap I've ever seen in the east.  So, are you saying "my" bird is from the Great Basin?
(2)  What makes you say that a Yb Sap with a red nape is not necessarily a hybrid?  Are you saying that the Yb Sap has genes for this characteristic?  If so, could you please provide a reference for this statement?
(3)  I looked online at many photos of Yb Saps and not one showed a red nape.  Could you please provide me with links to some pics?
(4)  Here's the link to the Cornell pic of a Red-naped male with black around the red.  It's available to everyone (I'd thought it was in the pay-to-view section).
I look forward to hearing from you!
In a message dated 3/5/2018 1:00:28 PM US Eastern Standard Time, <fogartyfa...> writes:

Hi all,
As someone who has surveyed for Red-naped Sapsucker in the Great Basin for years, I can feel confident saying this bird looks good for an normal adult male Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. Red nape patches are uncommon in this species but by no means unheard of or a definitive indication of hybrid origin. I've seen this in the field on YBSA several times, and seen it in photos dozens of times. The few brownish feathers high on the back are not atypical in adults of any species and not necessarily indicative of this being a Second-Year bird.
The two most important features for distinguishing these two species, the latter of which was not mentioned at all in the ID, are the throat/malar pattern and back pattern. This bird has a typical YBSA throat pattern, with the red throat completely encased by a thick, black border. I have never seen this in hundreds of RNSA I have surveyed, despite being on the look out for hybrids. As an aside, I checked the BNA media archive for this species and all of the birds there lack this feature and look fine for RNSA. The back pattern of this bird, while not seen straight on, is extensively white and messy which also supports a pure YBSA. RNSA typically has less white on the back, with the white markings clustered into two distinct, vertical lines. 

Frank Fogarty
Davis, CA

On Mon, Mar 5, 2018 at 9:15 AM, Marlene A Condon via va-bird <va-bird...> wrote:
Although I wasn't asked how I made my identification, I guess I should at least address what has been written here.
Although some books make mention of Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers having a red nape, I have to ask, "How many people out there have ever seen this?"  I have been paying attention to birds for as long as I can remember, while growing up in the Northeast, living out west, and living in Virginia.  Not only have I never seen a YB Sap with a red nape, but as far as I can tell from this list serve, neither has anyone else.
I might point out that the suggestion that a YB Sap has a red nape would mean the bird must carry Red-naped genes in order to express that red nape, which would make the bird a hybrid, not a YB Sap. 
Regarding that black border: You can find many pictures online of birds identified as Red-naped Sapsuckers that were taken out west by people who live out west, and the birds show a fully black-enclosed red area.  In fact. if I recall correctly, I even found such a picture at the Cornell Birds of North America write-up on Red-naped Sapsuckers (the version you pay to access).
After looking at many, many photos, and looking up this bird and Yb Sap in many, many books, I have to conclude that the I.D. characteristics are not set in stone, as some folks claim them to be.  In fact, considering that all of these sapsuckers were once lumped together as one species, it's surprising anyone would think the field marks are that definitive.
In a message dated 3/5/2018 9:40:02 AM US Eastern Standard Time, <va-bird...> writes:
I also think yellow-bellied. They can occasionally have a red nape, and the throat is completely bordered in black.

Marc Ribaudo

Marc Ribaudo

On Monday, March 5, 2018 Marshall Faintich via va-bird <va-bird...> wrote:
Marlene Condon posted a link to a photo of the Red-naped Sapsucker that she
saw in Albemarle County. Although I have seen and photographed 100+
Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, I have only seen one Red-naped Sapsucker, and
that was a year ago in Arizona (photos can been viewed on my Woodpecker
photo pages:

As I have only seen one Red-naped Sapsucker, my posting here is really more
of a question for learning than disputing Marlene's identification. The
photo that she posted is clearly an interesting bird. When I first looked at
it, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker jumped into my mind - perhaps the gizz, or
posture of the bird. But this bird clearly has red on its nape. So I started
checking references. Although Sibley's hardback field guide does not state
the following, his electronic app states for Yellow-bellied, "nape, usually
white, occasionally red." It also states that the throat of the
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker has "limited red with a complete black border" as
seen in Marlene's photo, whereas the Red-naped Sapsucker's throat has
"extensive red with incomplete black border," which is also the case in my
photos of this species taken in Arizona. Additionally, Sibley's hardback
guide states that the Red-naped has white bars in two rows on its back, and
the Yellow-bellied has messy white bars on its back. I can't tell from the
side view on Marlene's photo what its back really looks like. I also can't
see its white wing bar, but that feature might be covered by breast

So for those of you with expert knowledge of sapsuckers, is this bird a
Red-naped or a variation of a Yellow-bellied? Either way, it's an
interesting bird, and thanks to Marlene for posting the photo.


Marshall Faintich

Crozet, VA

<marshall...> <>

In real life, the shortest distance between two points is never a straight
line, so you might as well enjoy the journey !!


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