Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Sphyrapicus varius




Woodpeckers (Picidae)

Code 4


Code 6



Egg Color:


Number of Eggs:

4 - 7

Incubation Days:

12 - 13

Egg Incubator:

Both sexes

Nest Location:

In tree holes.

Nest Material:

Wood chips in base of cavity.





Yellow-bellied Sapsucker: Medium-sized woodpecker with black-and-white mottled upperparts, white rump, and yellow-washed white underparts. Red throat has black border. Red crown and black-and-white striped face and neck are distinct. Wings are dark with large white shoulder patches; tail is black with black-barred, white center stripe. Female is similar but has a white throat. Juvenile is browner and lacks bright head and throat pattern.

Range and Habitat

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker: Breeds across Canada east of the Rockies to Labrador and Newfoundland and from South Dakota to Pennsylvania and New England and south through the Appalachians to northwest Georgia. Winters in the southeastern U.S., the West Indies, and Central America as far south as Panama. Prefers deciduous and mixed woods in foothills and lower montane regions.

Breeding and Nesting

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker: Four to seven white eggs are laid in a tree cavity lined with wood chips. Incubation ranges from 12 to 13 days and is carried out by both parents (male at night, female during the day).

Foraging and Feeding

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker: Feeds on sap, insects, fruits, and berries. Hammers trees for insects; also creates sap wells in bark to collect sap and trap insects; sometimes catches insects in mid-air.

Readily Eats

Suet, Sunflower Seed, Nuts, Sugar Water, Fruit


Yellow-bellied Sapsucker: Utters a nasal, cat-like "meow." Alarm call is "cheee-er, cheee-er." During courtship display, cries "hoih-hoih." Territorial and courtship hammering has a Morse-code quality and rhythm.

Similar Species

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker: Red-naped Sapsucker has red nape.


Belly, undertail coverts, chest, flanks, and foreneck.

Back, rump, hindneck, wings, and crown.
The crown is the top part of the birds head.
The front part of the head consisting of the bill, eyes, cheeks and chin.
The area between the uppertail coverts and the back of the bird.
The short feathers overlying the median secondary coverts on the top of the wing. They are located near the back and can be seen as the “first row” of feathers on the birds wing. They are also called marginal coverts and lesser secondary coverts.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X