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Red-naped Sapsucker


IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

The Red-naped Sapsucker is a woodpecker of the lower elevations of the Rocky Mountains. It prefers to make sap wells in willow trees, but will use a variety of tree species.

At a GlanceHelp

Both Sexes
7.5–8.3 in
19–21 cm
1.1–2.3 oz
32–66 g
Other Names
  • Pic à nuque rouge (French)
  • Chupasavia nuquirroja (Spanish)

Cool Facts

  • The Red-naped Sapsucker is closely related to the Yellow-bellied and Red-breasted sapsuckers. All three were formerly considered races of the yellow-bellied. The red-naped hybridizes where it comes in contact with the other two species, and birds intermediate in plumage are sometimes found.

  • Sapsuckers do not suck sap, but are specialized for sipping it. Their tongues are shorter than those of other woodpeckers, and do not extend as far out. The tip of the tongue has small hair-like projections on it that help pick up the sap, much like a paintbrush holds paint.

  • Sap wells made by sapsuckers attract other sap feeders, especially hummingbirds. Although the woodpecker may eat some insects that are attracted, others are treated as competitors and are chased away.



  • Breeds in deciduous and mixed montane forests, often associated with willows and aspens.
  • Winters in diverse habitats, including orchards and pine-oak woodlands.



Sap, fruit, arthropods.


Nesting Facts
Clutch Size
3–7 eggs
Egg Description
Condition at Hatching
Naked and helpless.
Nest Description

Nest in cavity in trees or dead branch. No nest material is 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

Historically shot as an orchard pest; protected now. Populations appear stable, but forestry practices may affect abundance in particular areas.


  • 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-naped Sapsucker Range Map
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