Family Woodpeckers (Picidae)

Least Concern

Red-breasted Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus ruber)


French: Pic à poitrine rouge German: Feuerkopf-Saftlecker Spanish: Chupasavia pechirrojo

Picus ruber

J. F. Gmelin

, 1788,

Cayenne; error = Nootka Sound, British Columbia, Canada


Closely related to S. varius and S. nuchalis, and in the past all sometimes treated as conspecific; hybridizes with both, but especially latter, wherever ranges overlap. Races intergrade, fully so in extreme S Oregon. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • S. r. ruber (J. F. Gmelin, 1788) – S Alaska S to W Oregon.
  • S. r. daggetti Grinnell, 1901 – SW Oregon, N & E California and W Nevada.
  • Descriptive notes

    20–22 cm; 40–55 g. Both sexes have bright red head, neck and breast, brightest in spring, some black feather bases visible when very worn (summer), white nasal... read more


    Mewing, rather drawn-out “meeah”, quiet “puc” or “pwuc” notes, also other call types; voice much as... read more


    Mixed deciduous and coniferous forest and forest edge, particularly associations of aspen (... read more

    Food and feeding

    Arthropods and sap; presumably, nuts and fruits also taken. Insects, especially ants, comprise an important nestling food. Diet and... read more


    Apr–Jul. Monogamous; solitary. Nest usually high up in tree, conifer apparently preferred. Clutch 4–7 eggs; incubation 14... read more


    Resident and short-distance migrant. Less migratory than congeners; nominate race more or less... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Reasonably common throughout most of its range; race daggetti fairly common in Sierra Nevada; no detailed information on numbers. Outside... read more

    Recommended citation

    Winkler, H. & Christie, D.A. (2019). Red-breasted Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus ruber). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 7 December 2019).