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. Sapsuckers feed by drilling small holes in tree trunks, returning to the holes for the sap and insects feeding on the sap. The Red-breasted Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus ruber) is the only sapsucker with a red head, throat and upper breast. S. ruber hybridizes with Red-naped Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus nuchalis) where their ranges overlap in the Great Basin. S. nuchalis x ruber shows a mix of the two parents' plumage, with much of the black-and-white facial pattern of S. nuchalis and an overlay of red head, face, throat and upper breast.
Typical range: S. ruber is a bird of the pacific slope mountains from Alaska through California. Populations breeding at higher elevations move downslope to nearby valleys and to the Pacific coast for the winter.