Yellow-bellied Sapsucker update

22 November 2011

After an absence of about two weeks, our younger-plumaged YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER finally returned to the apple tree outside our dining room window at 9:00am this morning!  We thought all of the Yellow-bellieds had departed, leaving only two RED-NAPED SAPSUCKERS behind; happily, we were wrong.  It was neat to see this bird again to track how it is developing.  Below I've posted a photo from about a month ago, followed by a photo of the bird from today.  Note: the lighting conditions were *very* different, so try not to focus to much on the actual hue of the colors, but rather the quality of the colors with respect to the rest of the bird.

Today, the facial pattern appeared much crisper than last month's photo.  Both white stripes in the face are brighter and slightly broader, with the space between showing darker and crisper black.  Most importantly, the black throat frame is more continuous, fully enclosing the red color of the throat.  Notably, there is still no red in the nape (further confirming Yellow-bellied).  The back feathers, while difficult to see in this shot, still retain some of that butter-cream color that seems to be so distinctive of immature Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers.

Another rare visitor to southeastern Arizona put in an appearance today: a lovely WHITE-THROATED SPARROW!  Most individuals of this species that stray into Arizona during the winter are of the "tan-striped" variety, but this individual seems to have much brighter white, setting off the bold yellow patches in the lores.

Finally, a resident CRISSAL THRASHER topped off the show.  Bad pictures, perhaps, but great birds!

John Yerger
Portal, AZ
Adventure Birding Company
Specializing in flexible, personalized guiding in SE Arizona

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