Sunday, February 3, 2008

Freaky Sapsucker

Yesterday afternoon, while birding at Irvine Regional Park, I came across a hybrid sapsucker, almost certainly the same individual I saw a couple weeks ago about a quarter mile away. I believe it is a Red-naped x Red-breasted Sapsucker hybrid - as you can see in the photo above, its head pattern is almost exactly intermediate between those two species. Its throat is all red, but with a black border. The white lines on the face and the Red-naped face pattern are distinctive, but smudged with red. It had a wash of red across the upper breast. Interestingly, this bird was on the same pepper tree that the female Red-naped Sapsucker hangs out in. Apparently, it was "poaching" the Red-naped Sapsucker's wells, since later I saw the Red-naped back working on her wells. Here's another shot of the hybrid, showing the breast pattern. This bird was quite tame, allowing good photos.

In the morning, my dad and I birded several various places in Huntington Beach - Huntington Central Park, Harriet M. Wieder Regional Park, and Bolsa Chica. We dipped on most of the birds we were looking for - a Tropical Kingbird at Huntington Central Park, a Hammond's Flycatcher at Harriet Wieder, and two Common Goldeneyes at Bolsa Chica. However, we did have some nice consolation prizes - the "Red" subspecies of Fox Sparrow, found mostly in the east, at Harriet Wieder; and singles of Greater Scaup, Pacific Golden-Plover and Reddish Egret at Bolsa Chica. Bolsa Chica was loaded with shorebirds - there were thousands of Western Sandpipers spread over the flats, and large numbers of many other kinds. I also spotted a Merlin near the tide gates. A very nice day all in all. Here's a shot of a Marbled Godwit at Bolsa Chica, with a couple Short-billed Dowitchers in the background.

1 comment:

Cole Wolf said...

That sapsucker is pretty sweet. Any idea how often those two hybridize?