Documentation of Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Observer Information

Reporter:  Mike Henwood   
Other Observers:  Rob Raker;

Species, Date, Time and Location Information

Species:  Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
First Date/Time:  11/24/2008
Last Date/Time: 
Duration (total time in view):  15-20 minutes
County:  Jefferson
Specific Location:  Bear Creek Lake Park between in the vicinity of the stables, archery range, and picnic area.
Number:  1
Age:  Unknown
Sex:  Unknown
Plumage:  Other/Unknown


open country with a scattering of trees - box elder, elm, juniper, American hackberry, Russian Olive

Viewing Conditions

Optics:  Stokes DLS Vortex 8x42
Distance:  approx. 30 -40 feet at the closest distance
Light:  Somewhat cloudy day, but we followed the bird and were able to get good looks with the sun at our back.

Description of the Bird

Definitely a woodpecker when we first saw it and not a Hairy or Downy. Brownish head and breast as well as back; black & white wings and tail; prominent long, white wing patch evident on perched bird.
Behaviors: Bird was on a small Box Elder limb when we first saw it. As we observed the bird, it flew from the Box Elder to an Elm where it worked it's way up and around the trunk. Eventually it flew to an American Hackberry tree where it started just a few feet off the ground and went up the tree. A Downy flew to the same tree trunk and the juvenile yellow-bellid chased it off. The bird eventually ended up in the crown of the tree where it fed on the small berries along with a Townsend's Solitaire. From there the bird flew to an Elm and landed in the upper third of the tree along the trunk. Eventually the bird left that tree and we weren't able to locate it again.
Call: n/a
Plumage: juvenile

Similar Species Discussion

Originally we thought maybe it was a juvenile Red-naped Sapsucker, but several birders on Co-birds pointed out that juvenile red-naped undergo their molt in early fall and that any obvious juvenile after Sept. is most certainly a Yellow-bellied.

Resources Used

The Sibley Guide to Birds immediately after we saw the bird in the field and returned to our vehicle. Afterward Peterson Field Guides "Advanced Birding" by Kenn Kaufman.

Previous Experience

I didn't realize that late fall/winter juvenile sapsuckers were Yellow-bellied as a result of their molts until it was pointed out to me.


Notes made AFTER observation

Additional Information

Time: mid-late morning
Elevation: approx. 5640 feet
Other Dates:
Nearest Town: Morrison
Independent Observers:

Materials Available

No files uploaded.

Date Documentation Submitted

12/30/2008 10:54:00 AM