52-B-2018 Red-Breasted Sapsucker

STATUS
Accepted
DATE VOTING COMPLETED
1ST ROUND
7-0
HOW MANY OBSERVED?
1
DATE SIGHTING OCCURRED
DATE REPORT PREPARED
REPORTER
Janet P. Phillips
OTHER OBSERVERS
12/28/2016--Jordan Ragsdale (first); 12/29/2016 --Jason Talbot Cliff Weisse; 12/30/2016--me, James Lyons, Patti Guicheteau, Jordan R. again; dozens more 1/1/2017 to 2/26/2017
LOCALITY OF OBSERVATION
43.640006 -116.2436138 Boise, Idaho, Ada County; Lander St. Water Treatment Plant; major intersection is Lander St. and State St. which is just west of Curtis St.
Lander St. dead ends at Boise River Greenbelt running on the north side of the river; this bird stayed in area of west entrance to Lander St. Water Treatment Plant for 3 days and very gradually moved westward
HABITAT WHERE THE BIRD WAS OBSERVED
Major 6 lane street to north (State St.) 3-4 blocks of residential neighborhood continuing south to Lander Water Treatment buildings and parking lot; dead ends at Boise River Greenbelt which is tree-lined all along east to west; numerous conifer and deciduous trees throughout whole area from State St. to the Boise River and a large athletic complex with ball fields to the west of the parking lot for the water treatment plant; there is another major multi-lane street to the east of the treatment plant; therefore, this a transition from residential and commercial north and east, to the river region and public park south and west with lots of large trees throughout
SIGHTING DURATION, CONDITIONS, and EQUIPMENT USED
Birded the residential streets from the car and then parked in the lot to the west of the Lander Water Treatment Plant; soon after leaving the car a Red-Naped Sapsucker was spotted on one of the juniper trees bordering the west entrance of the water treatment buildings; in an adjacent juniper tree the Red-Breasted Sapsucker's bright red head stood out as he foraged on juniper berries and a preliminary ID was made immediately with binocular views (Swarovski EL 8 x 45); numerous photos were taken (Nikon CoolPix P900); closer approach (30 feet) did not cause any change in behavior or location; he appeared oblivious of us; another birder and I were able to view the two woodpeckers for at least 25 minutes. It was a heavy overcast day, probably in the 20's with inches of snow cover; wind not notable;
DID YOU TAKE NOTES?
Yes, later the same day
DID YOU CONSULT A FIELD GUIDE OR OTHER REFERENCE WORK?
Yes, during the observation
Yes, later the same day
WHICH GUIDE(S) OR REFERENCE(S): DID YOU CONSULT?
iBird Pro application on my iPhone while observing the bird to confirm ID
Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Western North America, David Allen Sibley, 2003
DESCRIPTION OF THE BIRD(s)
His long, straight bill was characteristic of a woodpecker but he was foraging along the juniper branches eating berries not moving up or down along the trunk; his bright red head, neck and breast with some yellow color visible below the red breast was distinctive; he lacked the curved white stripe from the base of the bill to the nape and then to the breast which distinguished him from the Red-Naped Sapsucker nearby; therefore, an ID of Red-Breasted Sapsucker was made in the field and confirmed with several photos; an experienced birder described him as a ruber ssp
BEHAVIOR OF THE BIRD(s)
The Red-Breasted Woodpecker concentrated his activity to foraging along the juniper branches and eating the berries. He did not spend any time on the trunk or bark; he seemed totally unconcerned with human approaches; he stayed at one tree quite awhile and then moved slowly to an adjacent juniper; perhaps he was intoxicated by the berries!! This bird stayed in this immediate area for 3 days at least and then gradually moved west and was photographed on Ponderosa tree trunks in the athletic field area.
HOW AND WHEN DID YOU POSITIVELY IDENTIFY THE BIRD, AND WHAT CLINCHED THE IDENTIFICATION FOR YOU?
The Red-Breasted Sapsucker had been reported by two previous birders at this location so I was specifically looking for it; I first saw a Red-Naped Sapsucker but the bright red color of the head and breast of the Red-Breasted Sapsucker stood out immediately. A preliminary ID was made with binocular views and photos confirmed the lack of a curved white stripe from the base of the bill to the nape and then back to the breast which confirmed the ID in the field; he only had a white spot at the base of his bill; I had adequate photos to verify the ID once I returned home.
HOW DID YOU ELIMINATE SIMILAR SPECIES? WHAT WERE THEY?
The extensive red on his whole head, neck and down the breast was not characteristic of a Red-Naped Sapsucker; he also lacked the curved white stripe that the Red-Naped Sapsucker has that runs from the base of the bill to the nape and back across the shoulder to the breast. Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers are rare in Idaho and also have the curved white stripe just described. Red-headed Woodpeckers are even rarer, are larger and have very white bellies.
WHAT IS YOUR EXPERIENCE WITH THIS (AND SIMILAR) SPECIES?
I lived in Illinois until I was 24 so I am familiar with Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers and Red-Headed Woodpeckers. I have seen the Red-naped Sapsucker in New Mexico (2011), Arizona (2013, Wyoming (2014 ) and Idaho (2016). I have seen the Red-Breasted Sapsucker in Oregon and Washington (2015) and January of 2016 in Idaho


DESCRIBE YOUR GENERAL BIRDING EXPERIENCE
I birded during college years and graduated with a MSc in Zoology/Ornithology in 1970; after going to veterinary school in the 70's and working, I did not bird often; after 2008 I birded more in the NW and after a trip to N.Mexico and Texas in 2011, I was hooked on eBird. I have gone to birding festivals and birded all the states west of the Mississippi and most east of it. I frequent AZ, Texas and the NW coast as well as trips home to Illinois. I drive and fly to chase rare birds and have an ABA Life List of more than 700 birds. I am 72 years old so prefer to get a photo of a new bird as my vision has decreased but my hearing is excellent. I would consider myself a good birder.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION (If any)
Not necessary with the good photos
WERE PHOTO(S), VIDEO, AND/OR AUDIO OBTAINED FROM THIS SIGHTING?
Photo
SUPPORTING IMAGES
Photos by Janet Phillips 31 December 2016
Photo by Jordan Ragsdale 28 December 2016
Photo by Jordan Ragsdale 10 February 2017

FIRST ROUND VOTING:

Cliff Weisse
Accept

Description and photos support the identification of Red-breasted Sapsucker. In addition I think it's safe to ID this individual as being of the ruber ssp.

Shirley Sturts
Accept

photos and description look good

Dave Trochlell
Accept

This looks like a good representative Red-breasted Sapsucker of the northern subspecies (ruber), and I don't see any obvious indications of gene introgression from other sapsucker species.

Darren Clark
Accept

I've been wrong on these before, but this looks like a pure Red-breasted Sapsucker.

Carl Lundblad
Accept

Gorgeous documentation. No sign of introgression, I don't think

Jay Carlisle
Accept

well described and diagnostic pics

Doug Ward
Accept

Description does focus on the obvious marks (ie; bright red head and breast, lack of “curved white stripe”, yellowish underparts), but does not delve into possible hybrid origins. The excellent photos do seem to show a “pure” Red-breasted Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus ruber), enough so to “accept” in this round, though the apparent black marks on this bird’s auriculars and on the nape do give me some pause. Will be interested in Committee Member notes if we proceed to round 2.