Joan Lentz (cox.net address)
Libby Patten and I got out to do some birding at Stow Grove Park, where I got my first really good look at the Northern (“Ruber”) subspecies of the Red-breasted Sapsucker. Typically, we see the Daggetti subspecies of the sapsucker, which appears to breed in our local mountains and the Sierra Nevada. Ruber is more northerly, not breeding south of the Bay Area and ranging into AK.
Anyway, this Ruber subsp. sapsucker was so intensely red on the head and upper breast and then a BRIGHT yellow upper breast and belly, that I was blown away — so different from the typical Daggetti. We didn’t see the yellow spots that are supposed to be visible on the back of the Ruber, whereas the Daggetti has white spots. But just seeing this brilliant contrast between the two subspecies was so interesting.
The two birds were interacting in a small pittosporum tree on the fringe of the inner redwood section towards the
northeast corner of the park; therefore, they were south of the big green lawn area at the north end of the park.
According to BOSBC, Lehman’s book, there are only three records of Ruber sightings in our county prior to this.