Re: Seeking ID assistance

Jessica Bolton

Hi all,

Here is the verdict on the species ID and a collation of the feedback regarding key characteristics:

1. Red-breasted sapsucker
  • Sapsuckers usually show a prominent white wing stripe, but it can get hidden, and other features look good.  The red on the head seems rather limited, so I'd say a juvenile (or molting)
    Red-breasted Sapsucker.

2. Nuttall’s Woodpecker 
  • Downy or Hairy (the other common species in SF) don’t have that barred pattern. 
  • Note the stripes on the back.
  • note ladder-back, and not a vertical white line down back like downy or hairy woodpecker
  • Nuttall’s has bars Downey is black with Center white stripe
  • You can tell by the stripes across his back
  • strongly "ladder-backed", and extensive red on crown. 

3. Hermit thrush
  • the only catharus thrush here in winter.  The second photo doesn't show as strong markings below as some, but it does show the eye ring, and the rusty tail i  the first photo is a giveaway.

4. Red-tailed hawk 
  • 1st year bird so it doesn’t yet have red tail. 
  • White upper chest and but does have dark belly feathers
  • Note the dark belly band. 
  • note white upper breast and blobby dark belly band, tails are brown in their first year of life

5. Red-shouldered hawk 
  • Note the reddish breast and belly 
  • A red-shouldered has a reddish unmarked chest and black and white bars on the tail
  • superficially like Cooper's hawk, and similar size, but note white speckling on wings, brown head and, while not a great field mark in the field, eye color is helpful in this photo. Buteos like Red-shoulders have tan/brown eyes whereas accipiters like Coops have yellow eyes that turn orange to red as they age
  • a Cooper's would not show then strongly barred wings.
  • probably a juvenile Red-shouldered - similar comments about bulk and tail.

Thanks again for tips and advice!


On Mar 14, 2020, at 2:19 PM, Aimee G <aimgoggins@...> wrote:

Can you please share the responses? They weren’t visible to the group. Thanks, and welcome!

On Mar 14, 2020, at 1:30 PM, Jessica Bolton <jessicajanebolton92@...> wrote:

Thanks so much everyone for the feedback! Some great pointers on features to look out for on the hawks and woodpecker. I really appreciate all the tips! 


On Mar 14, 2020, at 1:28 PM, Sarah Barsness <slbarsness@...> wrote:

Hi Jessica,
Not sure if anyone have these all pretty much right!

The second woodpecker is a Nuttal's. You can tell by the stripes across his back. 

The two hawks are Red-tailed and Red-shouldered.

Have fun! Sarah

On Sat, Mar 14, 2020 at 12:04 PM Jessica Bolton <jessicajanebolton92@...> wrote:
Hi all,

I am new to SF birding scene (I moved here from Australia last year) and I am really enjoying getting to know the local species. That said, I have come across a few species that I haven’t been able to verify. I was hoping to get some assistance in ID-ing the following birds. I have narrowed them down to the species I think they might be but I would love confirmation from some local experts. 

1a+1b: Red-breasted Sapsucker? SF Botanical Garden
2: Downy Woodpecker or Nuttall’s Woodpecker? SF Botanical Garden
3a+3b: Hermit thrush? SF Botanical Garden
4: Red-shoulderd Hawk? SF Botanical Garden
5: Cooper’s Hawk? SF Botanical Garden

Many thanks, and happy birding!! 



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