Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Sphyrapicus varius

Summary 3

A medium-sized (8-9 inches) woodpecker, the male Yellow-bellied Sapsucker is most easily identified by its black-and-white barred back, buff breast, and red forehead and throat. Female Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers are similar to males, but have a white throat. In flight, this species may be separated from other small, dark-headed woodpeckers in its range by its conspicuous white wing patches. The Yellow-bellied Sapsucker breeds across south-central Canada and the northeastern United States. Isolated breeding populations exist at higher elevations in the Appalachian Mountains as far south as North Carolina.

This species migrates south for the winter, when it may be found from the Mid-Atlantic region and the southeast south through the West Indies, Mexico, and Central America. Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers breed in a number of northern mixed evergreen-deciduous forest types. In winter, this species may be found in a variety of temperate and tropical woodland habitats.

Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers may eat fruits, berries, and insects at certain times of the year, but this species is best known for its preference for tree sap collected from holes drilled in tree trunks. In appropriate habitat, Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers may be observed climbing up tree trunks while foraging (or drilling) for food. Good birdwatchers are quick to notice trees with grids of small holes ringing the trunks, as these are likely sapsucker feeding sites. Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers are primarily active during the day.

Threat Status: Least concern

Sources and Credits

  1. (c) Gene H, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-ND),
  2. (c) Jacqui, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-SA),
  3. Adapted by carmacks_bioblitz from a work by (c) Unknown, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-SA),

More Info

Range Map

iNatCA Map

Animal Bird
Color black, red, white
Bird Picidae (woodpeckers & sapsuckers)