Nature Journal
with Photos

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Identification Tips
(Credit: U. S. Geological Survey)
General Information
- Medium-sized woodpecker
- Black head traversed by white postocular stripe
   extending down neck
- Red forehead
- Pale moustachial stripe offsets black chest and
   complete, thick black border to throat
- Black back with faint white bars
- Black wings, with white barring on flight feathers and
   bold white patch on wing coverts
- Yellow breast fades to whitish lower belly and vent,
   and is streaked sparsely about the flanks
- White rump
- Dark tail with black and white barring on centralmost
   and outermost retricies
- Very rarely shows red nape spot

Adult male
- Red throat

Adult female
- White throat

- Wings and back patterned more or less like adult
- Head brownish and streaked, with weak postocular
   stripe and moustachial stripe
- Reddish wash on forehead
- Pale chest barred heavily with brown
- Yellowish belly sparsely barred and streaked with
- Juvenal plumage retained until first spring

Similar species
White patch on wing coverts sets sapsuckers apart from all other woodpeckers. Male Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers are distinguished from male Red-naped only by the red nape spot and incomplete frame to red throat of Red-naped Sapsucker.

Females are somewhat easier to distinguish, as they differ in these characters, as well as having quite different throat patterns (white in Yellow-bellied, red and white in Red-naped). It is worth noting that any sapsucker in juvenal plumage after late fall must be a Yellow-bellied. Beware of rare hybrid Yellow-bellied x Red-naped Sapsuckers, and the occasional Yellow-bellied Sapsucker which may show a red nape spot.
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