Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

(Sphyrapicus varius)

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List

LC - Least Concern

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker


N5B, N5N - Secure Breeding and Nonbreeding

SNRB - Unranked Breeding


not listed


Common migrant and breeder


Young, deciduous and mixed forests, especially dry, second-growth woodlands


7 to 9 in length

16 wingspan



  Photo by Bill Reynolds

This medium-sized woodpecker has a name likely to elicit a smile or a raised eyebrow. It is 7 to 9 long, weighs 1½ oz. to 2 oz., and has a 13 to 16 wingspan.

The back is black with extensive narrow white barring. The belly is yellowish. The flanks are yellowish to white with narrow faded barring. The breast is black. The rump is white. The wings are black with narrow white bars and a large white patch that is conspicuous during flight. The tail is mostly black.

The head is mostly black and white and boldly striped. The crown is bright red. On the male the chin is bright red. On the female it is white.


Long, horizontal, more or less straight lines of small, closely-spaced holes in the trunk of a tree are a sure sign of this bird.


A repeated, scratchy, nasal, cat-like me-ew.

The drumming is a loud roll quickly slowing to rapid but clearly separated taps and finished by 3 or 4 well-spaced taps at the end.


Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus), the only other woodpecker in Minnesota with a red crown, is a much larger, much blacker bird.


Tree sap and small insects attracted to the sap filling the holes made by the bird. Also hammers for insects and catches insects on the wing.


In late April and May the male and female excavate a nest hole in a live poplar or birch tree 6½ to 65 above the ground. They will often choose a dead limb or a trunk with decayed heartwood. Excavation takes from 2 to 3 weeks. The finished nest will be up to 10 deep with an entrance hole only 1½ in diameter. The nest is not lined.

The female lays 4 to 7 eggs on wood chips left over from the excavation. Both adults share incubation duties. The eggs hatch in 12 to 13 days. The young leave the nest 25 to 29 days after hatching.

There is only one brood per year. Nests are often reused year after year.


Late March to late October





Piciformes (woodpeckers and relatives)



Picidae (woodpeckers)






Visitor Photos
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Lynn Rubey

A male Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker, the only Minnesota woodpecker with a red chin patch.

  Yellow-bellied Sapsucker    
Bill Reynolds
  Yellow-bellied Sapsucker   Yellow-bellied Sapsucker Photos


  Yellow-bellied Sapsucker sign   Yellow-bellied Sapsucker sign
  Yellow-bellied Sapsucker sign    



  Yellow-bellied sapsucker
Andree Reno Sanborn
  Yellow-bellied sapsucker  

Sphyrapicus varius

  Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Andy Reago & Chrissy McClarren
  Yellow-bellied Sapsucker  
  Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
JMC Nature Photos
  Yellow-bellied Sapsucker  



Visitor Videos
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Other Videos
  Yellow bellied Sapsucker, Sphyrapicus varius drilling holes.
Rob Curtis

Published on Jun 26, 2014

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker,Sphyrapicus varius, feeding

  Yellow-bellied sapsucker female. South Padre Island

Published on Apr 4, 2015

Recorded at Valley land fund lots South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center on 2015-03-28

Sphyrapicus varius

Chupasavia Maculado, chupasavia norteño (Spanish)

If you want to watch similar bird and other wildlife videos go to my YouTube channel at

  Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (Picidae: Sphyrapicus varius) Male
Carl Barrentine

Uploaded on Jun 26, 2010

Photographed at the Rydell NWR, Minnesota (25 June 2010).

  Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus varius)

Published on Sep 27, 2012

Filmed in an aspen forest in central Alberta.

  Sphyrapicus varius Yellow-bellied Sapsucker at wells
Meena Haribal

Uploaded on Jul 18, 2011

No description available.




Visitor Sightings
Report a sighting of this bird.

Lynn Rubey

Location: Big Stone National Wildlife Refuge

A male Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker, the only Minnesota woodpecker with a red chin patch.

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Susan Torkelson

Location: Adams health Care Center

Debbie lamp


Location: 5 miles south of hibbing on bunker road

feeding on suet in yard have also been seeing a red bellied woodpecker yesterday feeding on suet.  The downy and hairy woodpeckers commonly feed here

Bill Reynolds

Location: Pennington Co MN

Here is a closer look at the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.   Such a good looking fellow.

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Bill Reynolds

Location: Pennington Co.

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker





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