14-B-2017 Red-headed Woodpecker
Weather was sunny with no wind. Did not note temperature but it was during a warm spell so probably low-mid 70s.
Sighting was at about 1:15 pm on a sunny day. Good overhead light. I was facing north so the sun was slightly behind me as well. No sun glare. 8 x 42 Leica binoculars. Bird was flying about 25 feet from the ground and its flight path was about 15 feet in front of me. Excellent, unobstructed view of underside and side of woodpecker until it went into the trees. No views of the bird from above.
Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Western North America, 2nd ed., David Allen Sibley, 2016
e-Bird website: photos, reports in Idaho
Idahobirds.net: previous rare bird reports
Two other woodpecker species were present: Red-naped Sapsucker and Northern Flicker. The size of this woodpecker was larger than the sapsucker and smaller than the flicker. It was the same size as a Hairy Woodpecker, which also has a white breast and belly. However, unlike the Hairy Woodpecker, the underneath of this woodpecker's wings were white near the body (secondary flight feathers & secondary underwing coverts) and black on the outer half (primary flight feather & primary underwing coverts). The entire head was red, which also eliminates any other possible woodpecker. It was too small to be a Pileated Woodpecker, did not have a crest, the underside was white rather than black, and the wings were white near the body with black near the tips rather than white on the underwing coverts with black on the primary and secondary flight feathers.
FIRST ROUND VOTING:
Though the observation was brief the description is convincing.
Key field marks well described
A quick view of a the woodpecker in flight could make for a questionable identification. However, the field marks noted are convincing.
Description eliminates similar species. Time of year generally fits the pattern of other Idaho records.
The report was convincing to me. I can't think of another bird that has the described characteristics.
Although the description in the report is clumsy, its tough to mess up this identification. Sufficient discussion of pattern and coloration, in addition to relative size, and familiarity with the family, to accept.
Despite the brief duration of the sighting, the observer is familiar with this and other candidate species and provides a convincing description that effectively eliminates alternatives. No other species should show the combination of marks described, and plumage abnormalities on another species are unlikely to account for them. The habitat sounds ideal for this species, this region of Idaho has hosted the state's previous records, and late May - June seems to be good timing for these, regionally. The area is not far from the regular range of this species, and it would require only a small navigational error for one to arrive in Idaho during late May.