The Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus varius) is the only migratory woodpecker to be found in Costa Rica. It is a common bird for US and Canadian birders and migrates from North America as far south as Panama, with the females tending to range further south than the males. For this reason, my sporadic sightings here at home of this species, which is considered to be quite uncommon, have mostly been of females. In Costa Rica, it tends to be found in the highlands.
Today’s individual flew in typical, bounding, woodpecker fashion to land in a guarumu at nearby San Rafael de Santa Cruz, close to the private Espino Blanco Reserve. Here it spent a considerable time drilling holes in order to release the sap from which it gets its name. This was an immature bird, with a heavily spotted and buffy back. I noted only a slight trace of red on the crown, but the bird sat high in the tree and my views were from below on this occasion. In previous years, I have found sapsuckers quite low down on tree trunks and have been lucky enough to see at least one male.