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Red-breasted Sapsucker Sphyrapicus ruber


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Red-breasted Sapsucker
credit: Kevin Cole/CCSA

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Family: Picidae, Woodpeckers view all from this family

Description ADULT Has bright red head, neck, and breast, with white "mustache" at base of bill; this is longer in ssp. daggetti than ssp. ruber. Back is mainly black, but with pale barring on wings and back and large white wing patch. Underparts are yellow with dark streaks and chevrons on flanks. JUVENILE Has black and red elements of adult's plumage replaced by brown barring.

Dimensions Length: 8-9" (20-23 cm)

Habitat Fairly common in damp, mixed and coniferous forest; southern ssp. daggetti occurs at higher altitude than ssp. ruber. Mainly resident, but northern and high altitude birds move south or to lower elevations in winter.

Observation Tips Easy to see in suitable habitats.

Range Western Canada, Northwest, California, Alaska, Southwest

Voice Utters a rapid, dry, rasping rattle. Common call a squealed quee-err.

Discussion Colorful and distinctive woodpecker. Classic form is easy to identify, but hybrids with Red-naped and Yellow-bellied, in zones of species overlap, can be confusing. Sexes are similar.