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Red-breasted Sapsucker


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.

At a GlanceHelp

Both Sexes
7.9–8.7 in
20–22 cm
14.6–15.7 in
37–40 cm
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.
  • The oldest recorded Red-breasted Sapsucker was at least 5 years old when it was found after being hit by a car. It lived in British Columbia.



  • 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.



Sap, fruit, arthropods.


Nesting Facts
Clutch Size
4–7 eggs
Egg Description
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



Bark Forager

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


status via IUCN

Least Concern

Red-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.


Range Map Help

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


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bird image Blue-winged Warbler by Brian Sullivan

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