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Yellow-bellied Sapsucker Sphyrapicus varius


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Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, male
credit:  dominic sherony/CCSA

© 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 but note 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 well marked by a red throat (which is bordered black) and crown, white stripe running below eye and curving around to breast, and white stripe behind eye. ADULT FEMALE Similar, but throat is white. JUVENILE Has barred brownish plumage overall but with adult's bold, white wing patch.

Dimensions Length: 8 1/2" (22 cm)

Habitat Common summer visitor (mainly May-Aug) to mixed and deciduous boreal forests, favoring areas where aspen and birch predominate (both are good sources of sap). Winters in similar habitats in southeastern U.S. and Mexico.

Observation Tips Easy to see.

Range Alaska, Great Lakes, Western Canada, Northwest, California, New England, Eastern Canada, Florida, Rocky Mountains, Southwest, Mid-Atlantic, Texas, Southeast, Plains

Voice Utters a harsh, mewing quee-err.

Discussion Colorful and migratory woodpecker that feeds on sap (obtained by drilling holes) and also on insects. Territorial birds drum loudly. Sexes are separable with care.