Found and reported on the previous day by Nathan Palmer of Moscow.
LOCALITY OF OBSERVATION
Intersection of Polk and B Street in the Ft. Russell Historic District of central Moscow.
HABITAT WHERE THE BIRD WAS OBSERVED
Well-established residential area well vegetated with mature trees.
SIGHTING DURATION, CONDITIONS, and EQUIPMENT USED
I watched the bird for several minutes before a crow flew through and seemed to flush it into the alley due east. Watching through Bushnell Elite 10X42 binoculars on a calm dry overcast and cold day. It was the final day of one of our snowiest Februaries on record (something like 49 inches and snowfall on 21 out of 28 days), and snow was still piled deep.
DID YOU TAKE NOTES?
Yes, later the same day
DID YOU CONSULT A FIELD GUIDE OR OTHER REFERENCE WORK?
No, not at all
DESCRIPTION OF THE BIRD(s)
Medium-small but plump woodpecker with black mantle and 2 rows of white markings running down the scapulars, pale yellow below with black scaling on flanks, large white wing patches, red hooded from nape to upper breast. The head showed just a small white spot on the lores and a bit of back on the lower rear auricular. There was no black bleeding through the red on the upper breast. Instead the bird had a solid red "bib" with pale yellow and barred/scalloped flanks, below.
BEHAVIOR OF THE BIRD(s)
Foraging/drilling sap wells in a large deciduous tree, maybe a large maple. Flushed, probably by a crow.
HOW AND WHEN DID YOU POSITIVELY IDENTIFY THE BIRD, AND WHAT CLINCHED THE IDENTIFICATION FOR YOU?
The bird was obviously a red-breasted sapsucker or hybrid. The face pattern, with minimal black and white markings, looked good for a pure red-breasted, but the clincher was seeing the upper breast was also solid bright red and lacked black, which usually shows though on hybrids.
HOW DID YOU ELIMINATE SIMILAR SPECIES? WHAT WERE THEY?
The bright red head easily eliminated the other sapsuckers, but it was necessary to observe the solid red breast to rule out a hybrid.
WHAT IS YOUR EXPERIENCE WITH THIS (AND SIMILAR) SPECIES?
Extensive experience with Red-breasted Sapsucker from California, southern and western Nevada, and as a vagrant in Arizona and Idaho (once previously).
DESCRIBE YOUR GENERAL BIRDING EXPERIENCE
Advanced birder with ~19 years of experience. Term-limited former Nevada Bird Records Committee member, eBird reviewer for Idaho and 4 counties in southern Nevada. PhD Candidate (almost done!) studying avian ecology.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION (If any)
Please see Nathan Palmer's better photos on eBird: https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S53203684
My own eBird report is at: https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S53224172
WERE PHOTO(S), VIDEO, AND/OR AUDIO OBTAINED FROM THIS SIGHTING?
FIRST ROUND VOTING:
Description and photos support identification of Red-breasted Sapsucker.
description and photos eliminate other woodpeckers including hybrids
I don't see any indication of hybridization in this bird and therefore assume that the identification as a RBSA is correct.
Description and photographs seem to eliminate Sapsucker hybrids.
Good write up which discusses relevant field marks, but importantly delves into potential hybridization with Red-naped Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus nuchalis). Between the observer’s note, and the attached photos, I’m comfortable “accepting” as a pure Red-breasted Sapsucker (S. ruber) in this round.
Helpful photos and careful consideration of the hybrid possibility
Heidi Ware Carlisle
Good notes and photos + additional photos in Nathan's list