Fun Sapsucker Facts For Kids

Ritwik Bhuyan
May 03, 2023 By Ritwik Bhuyan
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Monisha Kochhar
Fact-checked by Shray Sharma
Sapsucker facts about a species of bird found in several places all over North America.

The sapsucker birds are a species of North American woodpeckers. The woodpeckers of the order Piciformes fall under the genus of Sphyrapicus. The genus was introduced with the species of Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Sphyrapicus varius, in 1858. The genus now has four recognized species of woodpeckers - Red-naped Sapsucker, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Red-breasted Sapsucker, and Williamson's Sapsucker.

The Red-breasted woodpeckers were first considered the same species as the Yellow-bellied woodpeckers and the Red-naped woodpeckers. It has later been divided into the four species of the family of Picidae.

All of the species differ in size and color and have distinctive features to recognize them. They even have a different range map included for all the species of birds. They can easily be recognized by rows of shallow holes in tree bark.

They are often seen perching upright on trees and feeding on sap found in the holes they drill in the tree bark. All of the species feed on sap.

The birds are mostly seen drumming on trees and metal objects in a stuttering pattern. Like any woodpecker, these birds fly by alternate rapid wing beats and briefly gliding.

It is seen as an up-and-down movement in the air. Birds are special and colorful. Read some interesting facts about the Magnolia Warbler and the Prairie Warbler, once you're done with this article.

Sapsucker Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Sapsucker?

Sapsucker is a species of woodpecker found mostly in North America.

What class of animal does a Sapsucker belong to?

This species of bird fall under the class of Aves in the kingdom of Animalia.

How many Sapsuckers are there in the world?

The population numbers of the woodpecker species are not listed. But they are found in abundance in their habitats and seen all over the US in the migratory months.

Where does a Sapsucker live?

The Red-naped Sapsucker is found in the Rocky Mountains and Great Basin areas of North America. The Red-breasted Sapsucker is found in parts of southern Alaska and British Columbia. The range of the birds extends south through the Pacific coast ranges of western Washington and Oregon.

The birds are also found in California. Williamson's Sapsucker is found only in western North America. The range is from northern Mexico to British Columbia.

The Yellow-bellied sapsucker is found in Canada, eastern Alaska, and the northeastern United States. In winter, these birds are found in Central America, the eastern US, and West Indies. They are also seen in Ireland and Great Britain.

Central America has become a common ground for all the woodpecker species mentioned.

What is a Sapsucker's habitat?

The field guide of these species of birds includes various habitats for all four species. The red-breasted bird is usually found in forests that include pine, hemlock, fir, spruce, and many other woodland habitats.

The map shows they migrate south in the winter and are seen in the coastal lowlands. Winter habitats are mostly deciduous or coniferous woodland. The bird is found in Mexico during this period.

During the breeding period (April to July), the yellow-bellied bird is found in deciduous and mixed coniferous forests found 6000 ft above ground. These trees are made into homes by this species. In winter, they are found on the edge of forests, open woodland, and semi-open habitat. They are also found in larger trees.

The Red-naped bird is found to nest in dead trees. Williamson's sapsucker is found in the mentioned places and lives on this range permanently. Migrating birds are found in central Mexico.

Deciduous and coniferous trees are the main habitats of this bird species. They make holes in the trees and stay on the site.

Who do Sapsuckers live with?

During the breeding season, these birds are found in pairs. At other times, they live a solitary life in the trees.

How long does a Sapsucker live?

The average lifespan of a Sapsucker is five to seven years. Due to living in the wildlife, their life expectancy can be quite irregular.

How do they reproduce?

Both the male and female species work together to make the nest in a tree with rotten heartwood. This tree is often reused. The bird is monogamous and nests in pairs. Excavation of the cavity in the tree is done by both sexes, but mostly by the male.

Excavation of the holes takes about 15-28 days. Both the males and the female species excavate more when the chicks are born. The bird is often territorial.

The breeding season is from April to July. Dancing and flapping of wings by both the males and females are done as courtship procedures. It also includes touching the male's and female's bills together. Calls are also a part of it.

Eggs are laid in a clutch of three to seven, and both sexes incubate the eggs for 10-13 days. After the chicks are born, both parents feed and care for them for 8-10 days. After 25 days, the young leave the nest for the first time. They become independent after two weeks when they can feed themselves.

In the winter, they move to the open woodland site. Winter is a non-breeding season.

What is their conservation status?

There are a lot of these birds found in the world and have no immediate threat to their population.

There are some cases of capturing these birds from their range for the pet trade. For proper conservation of the sapsucker, woods are one of the most important factors. So these sites need to be kept intact.

Sapsucker Fun Facts

What do Sapsuckers look like?

Both sexes of these birds have prominent head markings.

The Red-naped sapsucker is black and white and has red and yellow accents. The upper parts of the bird are black-barred with white. They also have a white stripe on each wing. They have a red throat, yellowish belly, and black breasts.

They have a black patch on their redhead. A white stripe is also present across their face. The young have the same white stripes on the wings.

Red-breasted sapsuckers have a redhead and upper chest. They have a white wing patch and are black on the back and wings with a bar. They have a white lower belly and rump. These birds interbreed with the Red-naped and yellow-bellied sapsuckers in the breeding site, so recognizing them would be difficult.

Yellow-bellied sapsuckers have bright red foreheads on the males. The females have a little lighter color. The crown has a black border and a white stripe runs across the face. A black line is seen in the hindneck on the throat.

The Red-breasted Sapsucker has a bright red head and a white belly.

How cute are they?

These are a beautiful breed of birds with their bright vibrant colors.

How do they communicate?

Communication is usually carried out with their calls and sometimes visually through dancing and flapping wings. Calls are more prominent. Calls can be heard clearly during the breeding season in April. Apart from calls, Sapsuckers have a prominent slow and irregular drumming pattern. They sound like Morse codes.

How big is a Sapsucker?

The size of these birds ranges from 7.1-8.7 in (18-22 cm). The length of the wingspan is between 13.4-15.8 in (34-40 cm).

How fast can a Sapsucker move?

They are known to be pretty fast while drilling into a tree. Woodpeckers are known to peck 20 times a second into a tree. The flying speed of the bird is not known.

How much does a Sapsucker weigh?

They are quite lightweight with a weight ranging from 0.06-0.12 lb (43-55 g).

What are the male and female names of the species?

Males and females are not given different names.

What would you call a baby Sapsucker?

A baby Sapsucker is called a juvenile.

What do they eat?

The Sapsuckers are known to feed on tree sap, fruits, and nuts. Berries are also an item of feeding for these birds. Their feeding also includes anthropods. Ants and beetles are common feed for these birds.

During the nesting season, half of the feeding is restricted to insects for the adults. Chicks are fed by their parents. They coat the insects with tree sap. The size of insects depends on the age of the chicks, with smaller insects for younger birds.

Are they poisonous?

They are not poisonous.

Would they make a good pet?

They are not meant to be kept as pets.

Did you know...

Holes are frequently made by the bill of birds to find their sap and also make holes in the trees.

They have distinct differences in their colors which can be seen in many photos of the birds.

The West Indies have become a common winter ground for the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.

They do not eat seeds.

They are known as sapsuckers as these birds feed on tree sap.

Sapsuckers can kill trees by removing the bark ring of the trunk and stopping the flow of the sap to the roots of the trees. The continuous hitting of the bark of the tree damages the bark ring.

What is the difference between a Woodpecker and a Sapsucker?

The Sapsucker bird is a species of woodpeckers found mostly in North America.

What kind of trees do Sapsuckers like?

Sapsuckers prefer trees with high sugar content sap like maples. They usually feed on the sap of 400 species of trees. The sapsucker damage the trees by hitting them continuously.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds from our lesser scaup facts and white hawk fun facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable Sapsucker coloring pages.

We Want Your Photos!
We Want Your Photos!

We Want Your Photos!

Do you have a photo you are happy to share that would improve this article?
Email your photos

More for You


See All

Written by Ritwik Bhuyan

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English

Ritwik Bhuyan picture

Ritwik BhuyanBachelor of Arts specializing in English

A skilled content writer, Ritwik holds a Bachelor's degree in English from Delhi University. He has refined his writing abilities through his past experience at PenVelope and his current role at Kidadl. In addition to his proficiency in writing, Ritwik has pursued his passion for flying by achieving CPL training and becoming a licensed commercial pilot. This diverse skill set highlights his commitment to exploring multiple fields. Ritwik's experience in the aviation industry has provided him with a unique perspective and attention to detail, which he brings to his writing.

Read full bio >
Fact-checked by Shray Sharma

Bachelor of Technology specializing in Computer Science Engineering

Shray Sharma picture

Shray SharmaBachelor of Technology specializing in Computer Science Engineering

As an aspiring web and app developer, Shray has a passion for working with promising startups. He is currently pursuing a Bachelor's degree in Computer Science from Maharaja Surajmal Institute Of Technology while gaining experience in digital marketing. Shray has already earned a Google Analytics Certification and is well-equipped to handle analytics and data management tasks. He has also served as a marketing manager at Parallax Virtual Arts, where he oversaw the company's social media, content, and SEO strategies. Shray's goal is to create engaging content that resonates with audiences and offers valuable insights.

Read full bio >