Red-naped X Red-breasted Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus ruber X Sphyrapicus nuchalis), Pine, AZ, Gila County
This presumed hybrid Red-naped X Red-breasted Sapsucker was
discovered and photographed by Brian Ison on 28 November 2009.
Many sapsuckers with red on the breast that occur in Arizona in winter are
hybrids. This bird illustrates the challenges of distinguishing these
hybrids from the southern race of Red-breasted Sapsucker (S. r. daggetti).
Johnson and Johnson (1985 - see here)
provided a hybrid index for these birds. However, this index is based on
breeding plumage and Arizona birds are in nonbreeding plumage about which little
is known. This bird is difficult to place on the hybrid index. The
breast of this bird has little black which is near to the 0-1 on the hybrid
index and is consistent with this being a pure S. r. daggetti.
However, the black tips can wear off and it is not clear if this bird is in worn
or fresh plumage. This bird also appears to have a fair amount of black on
the face and nape, placing those characters nearer to a 4 on the hybrid index,
more consistent with this bird being a hybrid. Such birds are probably
best called hybrids until more is known about the nonbreeding plumages of hybrid
28 November 2009, photo by Brian IsonAll photos are copyrighted© by photographer
Submitted on 03 December 2009