Yesterday afternoon (2/22) was quite the event for my parents' backyard in Lafayette. After ten years of fairly regular watching, at 4:00pm we had our first visit from a beautiful Varied Thrush.
As exciting as that was, the visitor I noticed at about 2:30pm was quite a lot less likely (I think. I'm definitely no expert :). I heard drumming that was out of sync with a Nuttal's movements high in a bare oak. I approached to find a sap-sucking bird working some holes in a birch. My step-dad and I looked it over and it looked like nothing we'd ever seen.
We studied it for a while in shadow, noting the black line through the eye, the brownish white lines above and below. It had yellow on the belly and faintly on the sides of the chest with a black collar and a white throat. The large white lateral patches were hidden by golden brown, black, and white plumage, which seemed to cover both front and back. There was no red anywhere but the head did have a speckled look to it. The bird stayed for over an hour drilling and sipping on different branches.
You all will certainly have more knowledge about this bird. We decided it was a juvenile Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker based on the throat, speckled head, and fact that Red-Naped is juvenile through October only, according to Sibley.
This picture taken with iPhone through binoculars is probably the best I got. There is also video if folks think it will help.
The bird will be hard to find from public access as backyards on that court are pretty secluded and you would almost certainly have to look in the direction of houses to see it. However, if you feel like checking out the surrounding area, the house is on Windsor Ct. with cross street Windsor Rd. in Lafayette.
Inner Sunset, SF