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Steve405

Yellow Bellied Sapsucker?

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I think this may be a yellow bellied sapsucker but the lack of red on its head is throwing me off. I have numerous holes in my maple tree and it was sitting there for about an hour eating the sap. Granted I may not have seen the red through my binoculars? The photos aren't the best as I took them on my phone through my binoculars. The belly was a dirty pale yellow. I'm located in the panhandle of West Virginia.  Any help would surely put my mind at ease thank you! 

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(Let's try that again.)

Hi, and welcome to Whatbird!  Just the behavior alone should be enough to put this bird in the sapsucker family.  Since you're in WV (thanks for the location!), the only sapsucker you can expect is Yellow-bellied.  All other North American suckers live in the western states.

But let's wait on someone else to weigh in.  Something about this bird gives me pause.  The lack of red can be explained by this being a young bird that hasn't molted into adult colors yet.  That's common for young woodpeckers (sapsuckers are in that family).  It's the black cap and neck strip that give me pause.  I don't have much experience with molt patterns in young Yellow-bellieds, but those features look too dark, too black for this bird to not yet also have some red on the head and more white on the wings.  And other species will take advantage of sapsucker drillings.

https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Yellow-bellied_Sapsucker/id

Oh, and in the future, would you include the date of your sightings?  That helps when similar birds overlap in different seasons.  Thanks!

 

Edited by Charlie Spencer

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This is indeed a female Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. Females have variable crown colors and rarely show completely black crowns like this one.

In The Sibley Guide to Birds Second Edition, there’s a separate illustration for the black-crowned variant. Cool find!

Edited by akandula
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1 hour ago, akandula said:

This is indeed a female Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. Females have variable crown colors and rarely show completely black crowns like this one.

In The Sibley Guide to Birds Second Edition, there’s a separate illustration for the black-crowned variant. Cool find!

Agree with black-crowned variant . Nice find!

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1 hour ago, akandula said:

This is indeed a female Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. Females have variable crown colors and rarely show completely black crowns like this one.

In The Sibley Guide to Birds Second Edition, there’s a separate illustration for the black-crowned variant. Cool find!

Thanks!  My initial reaction was some unholy cross between a chickadee and a flicker!  :classic_blink:

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I have recently also been seeing a black-crowned variant Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, also in the eastern panhandle of WV near Inwood....maybe the same bird. March 2020, I 

finally did get  a few photos through a window.

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