Sphyrapicus varius


Sapsuckers get their name from the small, regularly spaced, sap wells they drill in tree trunks. The birds lick-up the oozing sap with their brush-like tongues. They also eat the insects that are attracted to the sap. The birds will continuously return to the same tree.


General: 8 to 8.5 inches in length.

Adult Male: Black head, back, wings, and tail. Black head with thick white stripe above and below the eye. Thick, black border around the throat. Red forehead and throat. Yellowish breast. Whitish belly. Lightly streaked flanks. Black back with faint white barring. Black wings with white barring and a bold white patch on coverts. Black tail with white barring on central and outer feathers. White rump.

Adult Female: Similar to adult male, except has a white throat instead of red.

Juvenile: Similar to adult, except has a brown head with weak stripes around the eyes, a pale chest heavily barred with brown, a yellowish belly with brown barring, and a reddish forehead patch.


Open deciduous or mixed forests.


5-6 white eggs. The eggs have a 12-13 day incubation period. Fledging occurs in 25-29 days. The nest is a tree cavity excavated by both parents.

Observed Locations:

  • Balboa Park, San Diego

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