Red-naped Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus nuchalis)

Red-naped Sapsucker

[order] PICIFORMES | [family] Picidae | [latin] Sphyrapicus nuchalis | [UK] Red-naped Sapsucker | [FR] Pic a nuque rouge | [DE] Rotnacken-Saftlecker | [ES] Chupasavia Nuquirroja (Mex) | [NL] Roodneksapspecht


Monotypic species

Physical charateristics

Note the longish white wing patch, red forehead and nape.b Immature: Brown, with the distinctive white wing patch. Sapsuckers drill orderly rows of small holes in trees for sap.

Listen to the sound of Red-naped Sapsucker

[audio: Sapsucker.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

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North America : West


Woodlands, aspen groves, orchard
In summer, found in mountains in mixed coniferous and deciduous forest, especially around aspens. During migration and in winter found both in mountains and in lowlands, in deciduous trees, riverside willow groves, pine-oak woods, orchards.


Courtship displays include pointing bill up to show off throat patch; repeated bowing; members of pair facing each other and swinging heads back and forth.
b Nest: Site is cavity in tree, usually in live aspen or other deciduous tree, sometimes in dead or dying pine or fir. Cavity averages 20′ above ground, can be 2-
70′ up. Often uses same tree in consecutive years, rarely same nest hole. Favors aspens affected by tinder fungus, which softens heartwood while leaving outer part of trunk firm. Both sexes excavate. No nest material besides wood chips in cavity.
b Eggs: 4-5, sometimes 3-7. White. Incubation is by both sexes (with male incubating at night and part of day), 12-13 days.
b Young: Both parents feed young. Young leave nest about 25 days after hatching. Parents teach young sapsucking habit, feed them for a few days after they leave nest. 1 brood per year.

Feeding habits

Includes insects, tree sap, fruit. Diet not known in detail, but eats many insects; also regularly feeds on oozing tree sap and takes a variety of berries and small fruit.
b Behavior: Most distinctive foraging is sapsucker
‘s drilling of sap wells, rows of shallow holes in bark; the bird returns to feed on oozing sap and on insects attracted to the sap. Also gleans insects elsewhere in trees in typical woodpecker fashion, sometimes catches insects in flight, and perches amo
ng twigs to pluck berries and small fruits.


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-naped Sapsucker status Least Concern


Rockies, Great Basin, etc. Winters to central Mexico.
b Migration: Migrates southward and to lower elevations in winter. Generally travels shorter distances than Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, reaching central Mexico only.

Distribution map

Red-naped Sapsucker distribution range map

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