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Red-naped Sapsucker Sphyrapicus nuchalis


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Red-naped Sapsucker
credit: U.S. Department of Agriculture - Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

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Family: Picidae, Woodpeckers view all from this family

Description ADULT MALE Has mainly black and white body plumage with barring on back, wings, and tail, and white patch on wings; breast is black and underparts are otherwise grubby pale yellow with streaks and bars on flanks. Head is marked with red throat, nape, and crown, white stripe running below eye and curving around to breast, and white stripe behind eye. ADULT FEMALE Similar, but has white on chin and black ear coverts. JUVENILE Has barred brownish plumage overall, but with adult's bold, white wing patch.

Dimensions Length: 8-9" (20-23 cm)

Habitat Fairly common summer visitor (mainly Apr- Aug) to mixed montane forests in Rocky Mountains, favoring aspen groves. Winters in conifer forests in southwestern U.S. and Mexico.

Observation Tips Presence often easiest to detect by listening for call.

Range California, Great Lakes, Texas, Plains, Rocky Mountains, Southwest, Northwest, Western Canada

Voice Utters a harsh, mewing quee-err, identical to that of Yellow-bellied.

Discussion Colorful and boldly marked woodpecker. Extremely similar to Yellow- bellied and best separated by studying head markings: has red (not white or black) nape, and red on throat in female (all-white in female Yellow- bellied). Simple, pragmatic approach for species separation is to use geographically distinct ranges. Sexes are separable with care.