Field identification tips: All sapsuckers (genus Sphyrapicus) are woodpeckers with a bold white stripe on the wing when folded, which may be hidden under body contour feathers. Typcal feeding behaviour is to drill numerous small holes in the feeding trees, returning to feed on sap and insects attracted to the sap. The bold black-and-white facial pattern is typical of this species and the closerly related Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus varius, typical of eastern North America) with red crown, nape and throat. Male S. nuchalis has a solid red chin and throat, female S. nuchalis has a red throat and white chin.
Typical range: The breeding range of S. nuchalis is generally the Great Basin and Rocky Mountains of North America. Each winter a handful are observed in California west of the Sierra Nevada.