Family Woodpeckers (Picidae)

Least Concern

Red-naped Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus nuchalis)


French: Pic à nuque rouge German: Rotnacken-Saftlecker Spanish: Chupasavia nuquirrojo

Sphyrapicus varius var. nuchalis

S. F. Baird

, 1858,

southern Rocky Mountains = Mimbres River, New Mexico, USA


Closely related to S. varius and S. ruber; sometimes treated as conspecific with former and in the past also with latter, hybridizing occasionally with varius in SW Canada (Alberta) and more frequently with ruber in various areas; has interbred rarely with S. thyroideus. Monotypic.


Rocky Mts from SE British Columbia and SW & SE Alberta E to W South Dakota, and S, discontinuously, to SE California, E Arizona and NE & S New Mexico; in winter from S California, Arizona and W Texas S to C Mexico.

Descriptive notes

c. 19–21 cm; 36–61 g, mean 52·4 g. Male has bright red forehead and crown, black band on hindcrown, red nape, black band down hindneck, narrow white stripe... read more


Mewing “meeah”, lower-pitched than that of S. varius, also more vibrant... read more


Deciduous forest containing aspen (Populus tremuloides), or in pure aspen stands... read more

Food and feeding

Arthropods, tree sap; diet presumably similar to that of S. varius. Ants (Camponotus) apparently important as nestling... read more


May–Aug. Monogamous, male and female may reunite in consecutive seasons; solitary. Nest excavated at 1–25 m in tree, e.g. aspen... read more


Migratory. Leaves breeding areas mostly in Sept, moving relatively short distances. Winter range... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. Fairly common in breeding range; fairly common in Mexican non-breeding range; few data. No known threats; protection and appropriate management of... read more

Recommended citation

Winkler, H. & Christie, D.A. (2020). Red-naped Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus nuchalis). 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 25 February 2020).