Red-naped or Hybrid Sapsucker in Pleasanton

Sorry for the late posting. On December 17, my wife, Yvonne McHugh, and I had the pleasure of participating in the Eastern Alameda County Christmas Bird Count. Our assignment was the Pleasanton Sports Park and Canal which was part of Jim Ross's Arroyo Mocho area. This recreational city park was surprisingly birdy, probably due to a large variety of trees growing around the periphery and between fields. About 10:30 AM on that day I spotted a Sapsucker fly into a tree in the park from the adjacent neighborhood. It was obviously not a Red-breasted Sapsucker, but I only had a fleeting glimpse of it. On Monday, December 20, we returned to try to relocate the bird and get photos. Shortly after we arrived at 4:15 PM, I saw a sapsucker fly into a tree in the same area. Over the next 40 minutes, we got a number of decent looks at the bird. The fading light resulted in some pretty poor photos. They are posted in the "Rare and Interesting East Bay Birds" album But from these and from our views, the bird appeared similar to a Red-naped Sapsucker with a few exceptions. It had red extending all the way over the top of its head as well as in the white supercilium stripe. Also, there was little black between the red throat and the yellowish chest and belly. There were two vertical rows of white spots down the back, which suggests Red-naped.

Jim Ross and Rich Cimino refound the bird yesterday, and have solicited opinions from a few experts. So far, the opinions are definite Red-naped and Red-breasted x Yellow-bellied. It would be great if someone could get better photos in good light to nail down the ID.

To get to this location take the Hopyard Rd. exit off I-580 and head south to Parkside Dr. continue about 1.5 mile then turn left on Parkside Dr. and go 0.4 mi to Curtis Cir. The sapsucker has been seen in the bare maple tree at the corner of Curtis and Parkside and in several nearby trees along the edge of the park, including a couple of pines ringed with sapsucker holes, a pepper tree, a eucalyptus and a bare tree along the walkway to the restrooms.

Tony Brake

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