Mystery Bird: Sapsucker or Woodpecker?

Please click on photos for larger views.

They are golden-fronted woodpeckers!  V.J., who identified them, is my hero. A twenty-year-old mystery is solved.

These two birds (or two like them) have been visiting the top of my very tall palm trees every morning for years. I always thought they were red-breasted woodpeckers, but only one has a pinkish spot on its head and the other is more golden-headed. Their markings look exactly like a red-breasted woodpecker or a sapsucker, but I can’t find any sapsucker with that colored head. Can anyone tell me what they are?

10 thoughts on “Mystery Bird: Sapsucker or Woodpecker?

  1. dennyho

    I believe they are red bellied woodpeckers. Their size and markings indicate this to me. The sapsucker will have a bit of red under its bill and is slightly smaller. I’m an amateur but have been birdwatching for years and the red bellies visit my yard daily as well. Perhaps another more qualified watcher can support or negate?



    I think that this is a ladder-back wood pecker but some people just lump them into what they call a “Red Headed Woodpecker”
    I have good news on top of good news. Ginny, my house guest, and I just got back from a visit with my son Mark in Austin; and first I learned that my Nikon could talk to my Android phone , so I can now use the phone as a remote to get a closeup of those sap suckers~! … (Long story), up until last week my cell phone would not work out here at my house, which sits in a deep valley, but I just bought what amounts to “a miniature cell phone tower” sitting in my office, working off the internet. I got this so Ginny could work at her editing job for the Minneapolis Tribune Newspaper from here, and this has become my bonus. Also He took several of those very bad slides that were faded out toward red and he “fixed” then~! ! ! Now if someone pushes me into a “show-n-tell” of places where I have been, I may be able to do it~! However he does have and use Photoshop, which is furnished by his work, and I am too cheap to buy that. However he gave me the URL of another software program that can be downloaded for less (read NO) money. So watch for photos of those sap suckers and I don’t mean Ginny and I drinking Margaritas and Wine.
    This is the program he gave me, but I have not yet tried it out~!


  3. V.J. Knutson

    We’re all going to give you different answers. I think it is either the golden-fronted or Gila woodpecker. I have photos from my trip to the Rio Valley, but I can’t remember the difference. The red-bellied had a brighter head of red (we get them here in Canada).


  4. Rita Harrington

    You are correct about it being a Golden-fronted Woodpecker. It’s a female with yellow feathering above the bill. The male has a little red cap. They visit my palm trees all the time.

    Liked by 2 people


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