- Medium-sized woodpecker
- Black head traversed by white postocular stripe extending down the neck
- Red forehead
- Pale moustachial stripe offsets black chest and complete, thick black border to the throat
- Black back with faint white bars
- Black wings, with white barring on flight feathers and bold white patch on wing coverts
- Yellow breast fades to whitish lower belly and vent, and is streaked sparsely about the flanks
- White rump
- Dark tail with black and white barring on centralmost and outermost retricies
- Very rarely shows red nape spot
- Wings and back patterned more or less like adult
- Head brownish and streaked, with weak postocular stripe and moustachial stripe
- Reddish wash on forehead
- Pale chest barred heavily with brown
- Yellowish belly sparsely barred and streaked with brown
- Juvenile plumage retained until first spring
Habitat: Woodlands, pine groves also orchards and other trees.
Diet: Sapsuckers drill orderly rows of small holes in trees for sap. They mostly eat plant matter and lesser amounts of insects, larvae and fruit.
Similar species: White patch on wing coverts sets sapsuckers apart from all other woodpeckers. Male Yellow-bellied Sapsukers are distinguished from male Red-naped only by the red nape spot and incomplete frame to red throat of Red-naped Sapsucker. Females are somewhat easier to distinguish, as they differ in these characters, as well as having quite different throat patterns (white in Yellow-bellied, red and white in Red-naped). It is worth noting that any sapsucker in juvenal plumage after late fall must be a Yellow-bellied. Beware of rare hybrid Yellow-bellied x Red-naped Sapsuckers, and the occasional Yellow-bellied Sapsucker which may show a red nape spot.
Image by permission of Dr. Daniel Sudia for educational purposes.
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