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Any Yellow-bellied Sapsucker experts in the house?

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Hi all, looking for some input on this Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, a continuing rarity (rare for the area), seen in Portland, OR Sunday. Yellow-bellied for the lack of red on the nape and more buffy-brownish tones. Some are calling it juvenile, others first-winter male. I lean towards first-winter male based on the bits of red feathering on the forehead and throat, but looking for more input from those who may be more familiar with these birds.

Also, interestingly the majority of photos show the bird with "fluffed out" belly feathers covering the side vertical white wing patch. Does anyone know about this behavior? Is this just a way they preserve heat in colder weather? Any other reasons sapsuckers would fluff those feathers? Curious.

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Maximum fluff:

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I'm pretty sure the fluffing is for insulation only.  Many species voluntarily alter their feather arrangement to attract a mate (peacocks, etc.).  I don't think sapsuckers are among them and I don't think January is when they're lonely on BirdsOnly.com.

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3 hours ago, Charlie Spencer said:

I'm pretty sure the fluffing is for insulation only.  Many species voluntarily alter their feather arrangement to attract a mate (peacocks, etc.).  I don't think sapsuckers are among them and I don't think January is when they're lonely on BirdsOnly.com.

Haha! Thanks! Perhaps more noticeable in sapsuckers because we’re looking for that white wing bar. Do you know if this is a first winter male? 

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Posted (edited)

Cool bird! 

Yes, your bird is a first winter male, just for the reason you stated (there’s a mix of brown juvenal feathers and red adult feathers on the throat/crown).

These feathers usually become fully adult by Dec-May.

Edited by akandula
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11 minutes ago, akandula said:

Cool bird! 

Yes, your bird is a first winter male, just for the reason you stated (there’s a mix of brown juvenal feathers and red adult feathers on the throat/crown).

These feathers usually become fully adult by Dec-May.

Very good! Thanks for confirming. 

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First, https://cobirds.org/CFO/ColoradoBirds/InTheScope/87.pdf

Second, omitting hybrids from consideration (not a safe bet, as sapsucker hybrids are relatively frequent), simply the state of the preformative molt on this bird is sufficent to ID the bird as a Yellow-bellied in Dec/Jan. Immatures of both Red-naped and Red-breasted are much farther along in the molt by this point, being nearly adult-like in appearance. Then, if it's a Yellow-bellied, any red on the throat, barring a very odd individual, proves the sex as male.

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