Red-breasted Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus ruber)

Red-breasted Sapsucker

[order] PICIFORMES | [family] Picidae | [latin] Sphyrapicus ruber | [UK] Red-breasted Sapsucker | [FR] Pic a poitrine rouge | [DE] Feuerkopf-Saftlecker | [ES] Chupasavia Cabecirroja (Mex) | [NL] Roodborstsapspecht


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range
Xiphidiopicus ruber
Sphyrapicus ruber NA w
Sphyrapicus ruber daggetti sw USA
Sphyrapicus ruber ruber s Alaska (USA) to w Oregon (USA)

Physical charateristics

This sapsucker of the Pacific region has theentire head and breast bright red.
Long white wing patch and other markings much like those of Red-naped and Yellow-bellied sapsuckers, with which it was formerly lumped as a single species.

Listen to the sound of Red-breasted Sapsucker

[audio: Sapsucker.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

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North America : West


Forest, aspen grove During summer on northwest coast often in forest of he
mlock or spruce, farther south in mountains found in pine forest, always with mixture of deciduous trees such as aspen, alder, willow. Some winter in breeding habitat, others move south or into lowlands, occurring in deciduous or coniferous trees.


Courtship displays not well known; probably similar to those of Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. Since male and female Red-breasted look alike, they may need to recognize each other by behavior, unlike other sapsuckers in which sexes differ.
b Nest: Site is cavity in tree, usually deciduous tree such as aspen, alder, cottonwood, or willow, but also in firs and other conifers. Cavity often high, may be 50-
60′ or more above ground. May use same tree in consecutive years, rarely same nest hole. Both sexes help excavate. No nest material other than wood chips in cavity.
b Eggs: 4-6, sometimes 7. White. Incubation is by both sexes, probably 12-15 days.
b Young: Both parents feed young, bringing them insects, sap, and fruit. Young leave nest about 23-29 days after hatching. Parents teach young the sapsucking habit, feed them for a short time after they leave nest.

Feeding habits

Includes insects, tree sap, fruit. Eats many insects; ants make up a large part of diet during breeding season. Also regularly feeds on tree sap; eats berries and small fruits.
b Behavior: Most distinctive foraging is sapsucker’s drilling of sap well
s, rows of shallow holes in bark (usually in smooth-barked trees); the bird returns repeatedly to feed on oozing sap and on insects attracted to the sap. Also gleans insects from bark elsewhere in trees, catches insects in the air, and climbs among outer
branches to reach berries.


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Red-breasted Sapsucker status Least Concern


Southeastern Alaska to Baja California. b Migration:
Less migratory than other sapsuckers. In Pacific Northwest, birds from interior may move to coast or southward; coastal birds may be permanent residents. Southern populations may move to lower elevations or short distance south in winter.

Distribution map

Red-breasted Sapsucker distribution range map

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