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Slate Run Metro Park
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Piciformes > Picidae

Red-naped Sapsucker

Sphyrapicus nuchalis

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Identification

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Striking medium-sized woodpecker of western North America. Long, solid white wing patch helps distinguish it from Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers. Adult male has red cap and throat; females are similar but with white chin; juveniles are messy brownish-gray overall. The namesake red nape is just a small patch and can be difficult to see. Compare with the extremely similar Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, which barely overlaps in range. Note male Red-naped has a more extensive red throat patch with a narrow, broken black border, and the white markings on the back are less extensive and loosely organized into two rows. Head pattern usually separates it from Red-breasted Sapsucker, but beware some hybrids occur. Breeds in montane forest, often with aspens or willows. Descends to lower elevations in winter; occurs in a variety of woodland habitats from the southwestern U.S. to central Mexico. Like other sapsuckers, drills rows of sap wells into tree bark. Listen for irregular drumming (like morse code) and various nasal calls.

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Red-naped Sapsucker

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