Family Woodpeckers (Picidae)

Least Concern

Williamson's Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus thyroideus)


French: Pic de Williamson German: Kiefernsaftlecker Spanish: Chupasavia oscuro

Picus thyroideus


, 1852,

Georgetown, Eldorado County, California, USA


Has hybridized rarely with S. nuchalis. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • S. t. thyroideus (Cassin, 1852) – SW Canada (S British Columbia) S through Cascade Range and Sierra Nevada to N Baja California (San Pedro Mártir Mts).
  • S. t. nataliae (Malherbe, 1854) – SE British Columbia S through Rockies to Arizona and New Mexico; winters in S of range and S to WC Mexico.
  • Descriptive notes

    c. 21–23 cm; 44–64 g. Male has white nasal tufts, lores and long mous­tachial stripe, white stripe from above eye curving down on nape side, red chin and... read more


    Single explosive, pulsating calls distinctive; also low-pitched guttural “k-k’-r-r-r”; squealing... read more


    Mixed montane forest dominated by spruce (Picea), firs (Abies) and pines (... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diet consists of insects, including ants, beetles, larvae, dipterans, Homoptera; also sap; nestlings fed mostly wood ants (Formica... read more


    Mid-Apr to Jul; peak of laying in first week Jun. Monogamous; solitary. Nest-hole drilled at 0·8–26 m in snag, or in live tree... read more


    Largely resident; but some migratory movements, and also post-breeding dispersal to lower... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Fairly common in USA; fairly common breeder in N Baja California. No information on total numbers; density 1 pair/40 ha in California, 4·1... read more

    Recommended citation

    Winkler, H. & Christie, D.A. (2019). Williamson's Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus thyroideus). 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 8 December 2019).