Red-breasted Sapsucker – Piciformes Picidae Sphyrapicus ruber

Identification & Description:
• Medium-sized woodpecker.
• Red head and breast.
• White stripe running up side.
• Size: 20-22 cm (8-9 in)
• Wingspan: 37-40 cm (15-16 in)
• Weight: 39-68 g (1.38-2.4 ounces)

• 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.

Other Names
Pic à poitrine rouge (French)
Chupasavia pechirroja (Spanish)

Sapsuckers make up the genus Sphyrapicus of the family Picidae, order Piciformes. Williamson’s sapsucker is classified as Sphyrapicus thyroideus, the yellow-bellied sapsucker as Sphyrapicus varius, the red-naped sapsucker as Sphyrapicus nuchalis, and the red-breasted sapsucker as Sphyrapicus ruber.

, common name for birds in a genus of American woodpeckers that drill series of small holes in the bark of trees to stimulate the flow of sap. In addition to sap, they feed, much as do other woodpeckers, on insects and wild fruits. For many years only two species were assigned to the genus: Williamson’s sapsucker of high western mountains, and the widely distributed yellow-bellied sapsucker. Genetic studies have now shown that two western populations formerly considered to be subspecies of the yellow-bellied sapsucker are actually full species: the red-naped sapsucker and the red-breasted sapsucker. All of these birds are about 23 cm (about 9 in) long, and all have a large white wing patch. The male Williamson’s sapsucker is mostly black, with a red throat, a yellow belly, and white stripes on the face. The female’s head is brown and her body barred brown and white; the difference between the sexes is so great that for many years after they were first described they were thought to be two species. The other sapsuckers have black and white barred backs, and red on the crown and throat in the yellow-bellied sapsucker, the same plus the nape in the red-naped sapsucker, or the entire head and breast in the red-breasted sapsucker.