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Red-breasted Sapsucker - BirdForum Opus

Photo by janruss
Edmonds, Washington, USA.
Sphyrapicus ruber


20-23 cm (Smaller than flickers)

  • Bright red head, throat and breast
  • Yellow belly
  • Long white wing patch
  • Barred back

Immature: upperparts are dusky brown with light spots, lighter underparts. Black and white checkered wings and tail.


Breeds from southeastern Alaska and British Columbia south to coastal California. Winters in most of breeding range except interior British Columbia.



Two subspecies are accepted[1]:

Photo by digishooter
Greenhorn range: Kern Co., California, USA, July 2009
  • S. r. ruber:
  • S. r. daggetti:


Montane: old growth mixed pine and spruce trees, woodlands and their edges, groves of aspen and alder.


A shy woodpecker.
It has behaviour very similar to Red-naped and Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers.


The clutch consists of 4-6 white eggs. They are laid in a cavity which has been drilled into a tree.
It is known to hybridize with the Red-naped in California and British Columbia.


They drill holes in trees to access the sap. Working round the trunk forming horizontal rows of holes.


Soft, slurred whee-ur or mew, similar to that of the Red-naped Sapsucker.


  1. Clements, JF. 2009. The Clements Checklist of Birds of the World. 6th ed., with updates to December 2009. Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press. ISBN 978-0801445019.
  2. BirdForum member observations

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