Red-breasted Sapsuckers

Red-breasted Sapsucker Photographed by Kevin Cole

Red-breasted Sapsucker Photographed by Kevin Cole

Identifying Them:

Red-breasted Sapsuckers are part of the Picidae family which is a family of different types of woodpeckers. Red-breasted Sapsuckers look a little like Red-naped Sapsuckers, but you can tell the difference if you look at their heads. Red-breasted Sapsuckers’ heads are mostly just red and Red-naped Sapsuckers’ heads have a bit of white and black next to their eyes.


Red-breasted Sapsuckers live in the West coast of North America year round. They live and breed in forests, particularly coniferous forests, but are also seen in mixed evergreen forests and deciduous forests.


  • Behavior is similar to that of the Red-naped Sapsucker.

Red-breasted Sapsuckers look for insects by prying, tapping and fly-catching. To get sap from trees they drill a series of holes in the tree, then licks up the sap (you can see the holes they make in the picture up above).

Nesting and Nestlings:

Red-breasted Sapsuckers nest in cavities in dead trees or in a large dead branch. The nest is usually high up, around 50-60 feet above ground

The female lays around 4-7 white eggs. Incubation is by the male and female though males incubate the eggs at night and part of the day too. Incubation usually takes about 2 weeks. Once they hatch both parents bring food to their babies and after 23-28 days their babies leave the nest but they are still fed by their parents until 10 days after leaving the nest. The parents teach chicks how to get food for themselves which includes the sap sucking technique.


Red-breasted Sapsuckers’ main diet is a large variety of insects, tree sap and fruit. Sap wells constructed by them are used by warblers, hummingbirds, and other birds.


About faithelise

I love learning about species of birds and want to be an Ornathologist. Writing about birds is my passion and I love every part of it!
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