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Red-breasted Sapsucker

Sphyrapicus ruber ORDER: PICIFORMES FAMILY: PICIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

The Red-breasted Sapsucker is a denizen of the coniferous forests of the northern Pacific Coast, usually found at middle or lower elevations.

Merlin Bird ID app
Optics Planet birding kit

At a GlanceHelp

Measurements
Both Sexes
Length
7.9–8.7 in
20–22 cm
Wingspan
14.6–15.7 in
37–40 cm
Weight
1.4–2.4 oz
39–68 g
Other Names
  • Pic à poitrine rouge (French)
  • Chupasavia pechirroja (Spanish)

Cool Facts

  • The Red-breasted Sapsucker has two subspecies. The northern form, resident from Alaska to Oregon, is redder on the head and has less white on the back. The southern form, found in California, often shows the black and white face striping of the other sapsucker species, but all the facial feathers are tipped in red.
  • Hummingbirds of several species make use of sapsucker feeding holes and come to rely on them. The Rufous Hummingbird is closely associated with the Red-breasted Sapsucker. It nests near sap wells and may follow the woodpecker around during the day, feeding at the wells the sapsucker keeps flowing.

Habitat


Forest

  • Breeds primarily in coniferous forests, but also uses deciduous and riparian habitat, as well as orchards and power line cuts.
  • Winters in a variety of forested habitats.

Food


Insects

Sap, fruit, arthropods.

Nesting

Nesting Facts
Clutch Size
4–7 eggs
Egg Description
White.
Condition at Hatching
Naked and helpless.
Nest Description

Nest in cavity in dead tree or dead branch. No nest material added to cavity.

Nest Placement

Cavity

Behavior


Bark Forager

Forages for insects by gleaning, probing, prying, tapping, and flycatching. Drills series of shallow holes in bark of tree, licks up sap.

Conservation

status via IUCN

Least Concern

Historically shot as an orchard pest; protected now. Populations appear stable, but forestry practices that remove snags may decrease its abundance in particular areas.

Credits

  • Walters, E. L., E. H. Miller, and P. E. Lowther. 2002. Red-breasted Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus ruber) and Red-naped Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus nuchalis). In The Birds of North America, No. 662 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Birds of North America, Inc., Philadelphia, PA.

Range Map Help

Red-breasted Sapsucker Range Map
View dynamic map of eBird sightings