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Red-naped Sapsucker

Sphyrapicus nuchalis

Length: 8.5 inches Wingspan: 17 inches Seasonality: Summer
ID Keys: Long white patch on wing, red cap, red throat on male, red-and-white throat on female.  Range distinguishes it from Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker.. 
Red-naped Sapsucker - Sphyrapicus nuchalis

The Red-naped Sapsucker was considered a race of the Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker until late in the 20th century.  The Red-naped Sapsucker has a distinctly different range, found only in the western United States, and only regularly in the Black Hills in South Dakota.  Both species are very similar in appearance.

Habitat: Prefers aspen groves.  Elsewhere found in deciduous to mixed forest. 

Diet: Drills sap "wells" and feeds frequently on tree sap.  Also takes insects, fruit, and berries.

Behavior: Drills sap wells into select trees and returns often to retrieve both leaked sap and insects trapped in the sap.  Also climbs along tree trunks and branches to capture insects, and will occasionally fly out from a perch to catch a flying insect in mid-air.

Nesting: June and July

Song: Generally silent, with occasional cat-like mewing.

Migration: Summers in and around the Northern to Mid-Rockies.  Winters in Mexico and Southern Rockies.

Interactive eBird Map: Click here to access an interactive eBird Map of Red-naped Sapsucker sightings

Similar Species: Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Williamson's Sapsucker, Red-breasted Sapsucker

Feeders: Fruit, will use hummingbird feeders for nectar, occasionally suet.

Conservation Status: Generally stable throughout its range.

Further Information: 1) Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter, Red-naped Sapsucker 

2) WhatBird - Red-naped Sapsucker

3) Audubon Guide - Red-naped Sapsucker

Photo Information: November 12th, 2015 - Santa Rita Lodge in Madera Canyon, south of Tucson, Arizona - Terry Sohl


Click on the map below for a higher-resolution view
Red-naped Sapsucker - Sphyrapicus nuchalis - Range Map
South Dakota Status: Uncommon summer resident in the Black Hills.  Uncommon migrant in the extreme western part of the state.

Additional Red-naped Sapsucker Photos
 Red-naped Sapsucker - Sphyrapicus nuchalisRed-naped Sapsucker - Sphyrapicus nuchalis