Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Female Sapsucker-what about her face?


The Birdfellow website has some discussion about the differences in sapsucker facial markings and this is posted by Dave Irons: "Generally speaking, the face of a Red-naped Sapsucker has a rather broad and nearly solid black auricular (behind the eye) stripe that is bordered above by a somewhat narrow white supercilium (above the eye) that tends to narrow anteriorly. Conversely, the dark auricular stripe on a Yellow-bellied is noticeably narrower and is often mottled with paler tipped feathers. The supercilium on Yellow-bellied is wider overall and tends to broaden a bit behind the eye. These differences account for the face of a Red-naped looking more dark than light, while the face of a Yellow-bellied tends to look more light than dark."

The top two pics are of the female sapsucker that has been the subject of these recent blogs. The third photo is a very typical male Red-naped Sapsucker I photographed in Canon City in the two weeks just as those above. And it shows the bird pretty straight on to reduce the distortions when a bird is angled from the camera. It certainly makes for some good comparison with the female sapsucker. This Red-naped has a very narrow white supercilium and it has the broad and solid black auricular stripe--both as described in the Birdfellow article as indicative of Red-naped. The female sapsucker has a somewhat narrower dark auricular stripe and it is invaded a little by some pale appearing feathers (not sure if pale tipped or white feathers. The white supercilium on the female sapsucker is certainly wider than the supercilium on the Red-naped and does widen behind the eye as it merges with the nape feathers that are also almost all white.

The bottom photo is a typical female Yellow-bellied Sapsucker I photographer in Canon City in 2008 (the photos of the recent Yellow-bellied are not good for this comparison). It really fits the Birdfellow article: narrower black auricular stripe with pale feathers in it and the white supercilium is clearly wider and gets even much wider behind the eye as described for Yellow-bellied. Still just a little more to come in next post. SeEtta