Sonoran Desert Naturalist >>> Field Guide >>> Riparian and Water Birds >>> Red-naped Sapsucker

Red-naped Sapsucker

Sphyrapicus nuchalis

image © by Robert Shantz

Photographed by Robert Shantz Main Fork of Cave Creek near Portal, Arizona.

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Sapsuckers need good-sized trees and so are rare in the Sonoran Desert away from riparian corridors where cottonwoods and other trees are found.

Sapsuckers can be difficult to spot as they shimmie around tree trunks and branches. Listen for their tapping sounds as they drill into tree trunks. Their sign in the form or rows of holes drilled into sound tree trunks are a common sight, however. The scars will remain for decades until the tree dies.

These woodpeckers make the holes then return again and again as the oozing sap provides food and attracts insects which also serve as food.

Winter Resident - Migration North in warm months

Photo by mike plagens hosted at Wikimedia. Click to view full size

Close-up of sycamore trunk showing drilled holes made by the Red-naped Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus nuchalis), a kind of woodpecker. Sycamore trees are not a prefered host for sapsucker drilling. Cottonwoods are a more common tree for sapsuckers to use.

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Copyright Michael J. Plagens, 1999-2008