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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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Forest and Rangeland Birds of the United States

Natural History and Habitat Use

Red-breasted Sapsucker -- Sphyrapicus ruber
(split from Yellow-bellied Sapsucker)

RANGE: Breeds from southeastern Alaska and coastal and central interior British Columbia south, west of the Cascades, to northwestern California, and in the Sierra Nevada to east-central California and extreme western Nevada; locally in the mountains of southern California and southern Nevada. Winters throughout the breeding range (except interior British Columbia) south through most of California (west of the deserts) to Baja California.

STATUS: Locally common.

HABITAT: Breeds in coniferous and conifer-aspen associations including the humid coastal lowlands. Also occurs in open woodlands and parks in winter.

SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Live or dead trees suitable for cavity nests.

NEST: Apparently excavates a cavity in a variety of tree species, including aspen, alder, cottonwood, fir, willow, and birch.

FOOD: Drills sapwells in a variety of tree species and consumes sap and cambium. Also feeds on a variety of insects, especially ants, and some fruits.

REFERENCES: Beal 1911, Bent 1939.

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