Feeding Time

Red-breasted sapsucker feeding babies in a hole in a cedar tree

Red-breasted sapsucker Sphyrapicus ruber

Frequent visitor in our woods. Subspecies of yellow bellied sapsucker on the Pacific Coast.  Food: Sap, fruit, arthropods. it drills neat rows of holes in bark of trees, later visiting the pits to lick up sap with its brush-like tongue. Squirrels and hummingbirds often gather at the sap wells also. The Rufous Hummingbird is closely associated with the Red-breasted Sapsucker. It nests near sap wells and may follow the woodpecker around during the day, feeding at the wells the sapsucker keeps flowing.

Nest: Nest in cavity in dead tree or dead branch. No nest material added to cavity.

ID: Males are beautiful with red heads, necks and breast. Females are generally brown with light throats.

Voice: Call a harsh mewing “waah.” Drumming a distinctive slow irregular tapping, easily imitated by tapping on a tree with a stick.

Egg: 4–7 white eggs

Historically shot as an orchard pest; protected now. Populations appear stable, but forestry practices that remove snags may decrease its abundance in particular areas.

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