This Yellow-bellied Sapsucker has been seen in southeast Portland for the past week. It is a young male, molting into his first adult plumage. The timing of this bird’s molt is key to distinguishing him from the very similar Red-naped Sapsucker. Young Red-napes achieve an adult-like head pattern by early October, while young Yellow-bellies gradually attain this pattern over the winter.
Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers normally winter across the the southeastern U.S. and into Central America. They breed across Canada and the northeastern U.S. Red-naped Sapsuckers are common breeders in eastern Oregon, only occasionally occurring west of the Cascade Crest, and winter in the southwestern U.S. and Mexico.