Sunday, October 24, 2010

Woodpeckers: Juvenile Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus varius)? and Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus)

The berries have ripened and a lot of birds are more visible than usual. I encountered these two birds in an open area along the trail south of the Fishing Area (segment 13) last week. They were up in trees – twenty to thirty feet above the ground and just about as far away.

Juvenile Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus varius)?

This bird landed in this Flowering Dogwood tree and, before I could focus on it, it hopped over to a closer branch and grabbed a berry which it swallowed and hopped back over to where I photographed it. This all happened so quickly that I didn’t get a shot of it with the berry. At first I thought it was a small woodpecker but couldn’t see any color on its head or neck. Its feathers were brown; I couldn't see any distinctly black feathers. I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s a juvenile Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. Can anyone confirm or correct my identification?

Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus)

No mistaking this woodpecker. Usually we just hear the rapid rat-tat-tat-tat-tat-tat as the Pileated Woodpeckers dig into a trunk. Occasionally we see them, but not often. This bird landed here. Then..

It hopped down the branch to the leafy tips where it proceeded to eat berries. I got this one shot. You and see its head among the leaves in the middle of the image. It was amusing to watch it feeding. It was much to heavy for the twigs it was on and swayed wildly as it balanced and ate greedily.

Click on an image to view a larger image

Identification resources:

- Sibley, DA. Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus varius) p. 311. In. National Audobon Society The Sibley Guide to Birds. Alfred A Knopf, New York.

- The Cornell Institute of Ornithology: Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus varius)

The Cornell Institute of Ornithology: Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus)

Related post:
- Red-headed Woodpecker (Melanerpes erythrocephalus)


Larry said...

Hi Joan. With those white wing stripes and the whitish lines above and below the eye, as well as the overall black and white mottling, I concur with your juvie Yellow-bellied Sapsucker ID.

Nice shot of the Pileated Woodpecker too. We saw one feeding on berries, hanging upside down from some small tree branches, just a few weeks ago. Until then, I had never seen a Pileated feeding this way. They are one big, gorgeous bird aren't they?

JSK said...

Thanks Larry. I'll be very pleased if I got this right. It looked like a member of the woodpecker family but I'm not familiar with sapsuckers.

Glad I'm not the only one surprised to see the Pileated Woodpeckers feeding this way. Previously I'd only see them working tree trunks so this was a delightful surprise.