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Red-breasted Sapsucker Life History


Habitat Forests

  • 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.
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Food InsectsSap, fruit, arthropods.Back to top


Nest Placement

Nest Cavity

Nest Description

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

Nesting Facts

Clutch Size:4-7 eggs
Number of Broods:1 brood
Egg Length:0.8-1.0 in (2.1-2.6 cm)
Egg Width:0.6-0.8 in (1.6-2 cm)
Incubation Period:14-15 days
Nestling Period:23-28 days
Egg Description:White.
Condition at Hatching:Naked and helpless.
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Behavior Bark ForagerForages for insects by gleaning, probing, prying, tapping, and flycatching. Drills series of shallow holes in bark of tree, licks up sap.Back to top


Conservation Low ConcernRed-breasted Sapsucker populations are stable, and slightly increased between 1966 and 2014, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey. Partners in Flight estimates a global breeding population of 2 million, with 68% spending some part of the year in the U.S., 45% in Canada, and 5% breeding in Mexico. The species rates a 12 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score. Red-breasted Sapsucker is a U.S.-Canada Stewardship species, and is not on the 2014 State of the Birds Watch List. These birds were historically shot as orchard pests, but are protected now. Forestry practices that remove snags may decrease Red-breasted Sapsucker abundance in particular areas.Back to top


Lutmerding, J. A. and A. S. Love. (2020). Longevity records of North American birds. Version 2020. Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Bird Banding Laboratory 2020.

North American Bird Conservation Initiative. (2014). The State of the Birds 2014 Report. US Department of Interior, Washington, DC, USA.

Partners in Flight (2017). Avian Conservation Assessment Database. 2017.

Sauer, J. R., J. E. Hines, J. E. Fallon, K. L. Pardieck, Jr. Ziolkowski, D. J. and W. A. Link. The North American Breeding Bird Survey, results and analysis 1966-2013 (Version 1.30.15). USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center (2014b). Available from

Sibley, D. A. (2014). The Sibley Guide to Birds, second edition. Alfred A. Knopf, New York, NY, USA.

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