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Red-breasted sapsucker        Images © Mark A. Chappell

The brightly-colored male red-breasted sapsucker (females are a little less intensely red) is one of the most attractive of the North American woodpeckers.   Formerly there was thought to be only two species of sapsuckers in North America, Williamson's and yellow-bellied sapsuckers, but the latter has been partitioned into two additional species:  red-breasted from the Pacific states and red-naped from the Rocky Mountain region.   I took the pictures at the bottom of the page near Forest Falls in the San Bernardino Mountains in southern California.  This male was using a dead snag as a drilling platform (which he time-shared with a male downy woodpecker).   The others were nesting in an aspen tree in Mono County, California.   Some are not as brightly colored or as 'clean' looking as the birds in the upper photos; I'm not sure if this is due to a clinal gradation in plumage or the wear and tear of the breeding season.   Males are somewhat more brightly colored than females.

  • Canon 10D, 1D Mk. II, or 1D4; 500 mm f4 IS lens plus 2X converter or 800 mm IS lens plus 1.4X converter, fill-in flash (2004, 2007, 2011)