Sphyrapicus ruber


The Red-breasted Sapsucker feeds on sap by drilling concentric rings of shallow wells in a tree. It also feeds on insects trapped in the sap wells.


General: 8 to 9 inches in length. Sexes similar.

Adult: Red head and upper chest. Black back, wings, and tail. Back has narrow white barring. White barring on flight feathers and bold white wing covert patch. Yellowish belly fades to whitish lower belly. Flanks are sparsely streaked. White rump. White barring on centralmost and outermost tail retricies. Black bill with whitish feathers around the base.

Northern Subspecies (S. r. ruber): Bright red head and chest, yellowish-gold barring on its back, and the whitish feathering at the base of the bill is limited.

Southern Subspecies (S.r.daggetti): Paler red head and chest, white barring on its back, and the whitish feathering at the base of the bill extends across the cheek and down the neck. The southern female shows more white across the face and some behind the eye. It also shows more of a black eye stripe.

Juvenile: Dark brownish, streaked, head. White head stripes are weakly visible. Dark upper breast. Chest is pale and barred with darker brown. Yellow belly sparsely streaked and barred with brown. Wings and back similar to adult.


Open woodlands.


4-6 white eggs. The eggs have a 12-13 day incubation period. Fledging occurs in 25-29 days. The nest is a cavity excavated in a tree. Interbreeds with the Red-naped Sapsucker.

Observed Locations:

  • Oak Hill Cemetary, Escondido

Click on an image to see the larger version.









Home | References
Copyright © Scott Streit, 2000.