Red-breasted Sapsucker

Sphyrapicus ruber

Red-breasted Sapsucker


Red-breasted sapsuckers have a yellowish stomach with a bright red head and white “moustache”. Like all woodpeckers, they have a long, strong bill for drilling into trees.

Range & Habitat

They are common in aspen and poplar forests. There are thre species of sapsuckers in Canada; the red-breasted sapsucker is found in western B.C. and in coastal states in the U.S.

Diet & Behaviour

Sapsuckers drill holes in rows across trees. They drink the sap and eat insects that are stuck in the sap. They have adapted by having a special brush-like tongue to slurp up the sticky sap.

Lifecycle & Threats

They nest in mid-spring by creating a cavity in a dead section of a live aspen or poplar tree. Females lay five or six eggs which hatch in 12 to 13 days. Young leave the nest 25 to 29 days later. Sapsuckers are unusual woodpeckers in that they migrate south for the winter.


COSEWIC: Not at Risk
CDC: Yellow

More Information


Photo: Doug Greenberg