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 Similar species
The white patch on the wing coverts sets sapsuckers apart from all other woodpeckers.
Male Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers are distinguished from male Red-naped Sapsuckers only by the red nape spot and incomplete frame to red throat of Red-naped Sapsucker.
Females are somewhat easier to distinguish, as they differ in these characters, as well as having quite different throat patterns (white in Yellow-bellied, but red and white in Red-naped Sapsucker). Red-breasted Sapsucker is more easily distinguished by the extensively red head and upper breast.
The post-juvenile molt is later than other sapsuckers, extending until March; any sapsucker still in juvenile plumage after late fall must be a Yellow-bellied.
Beware of rare hybrid Yellow-bellied x Red-naped Sapsuckers and Yellow-bellied x Red-breasted Sapsuckers, and the occasional Yellow-bellied Sapsucker which may show a red nape spot.
Found throughout much of northern and eastern North America. It is much more strongly migratory than most woodpeckers, breeding in the taiga forests of Canada (west to near the Alaskan border) and the northeastern United States, and wintering from the southeastern United States south through Mexico to Panama, and on the larger Caribbean islands.
Also casual in winter west to the California coast.
Found in early-successional/mixed conifer forests. Prefers quaking aspen, birches, and maples for nesting and feeding.
Seemingly prefers certain trees for feeding, most notably birches and maples, as well as some pines. Drills small "wells" in the bark to reach sap. Appears to have special enzymes in its saliva which keep the sap flowing for some time, as the wells would seal themselves rapidly under normal conditions. Sapsuckers also fairly regularly eat insects (mostly through fly-catching), especially those which come to feed from their sap wells. Many other species of birds (including woodpeckers, warblers, and hummingbirds), as well as insects and mammals (such as squirrels and chipmunks), visit these wells for a sweet treat.
Nest is a large cavity excavated in a deciduous tree, which can be reused for several years. Mating is for life with the same partner.
They sometimes hybridize with Red-naped Sapsuckers and Red-breasted Sapsuckers where breeding ranges overlap.
Migratory. They travel in family parties well south of their breeding areas.
A nasal meow
 In Culture
This bird is widely known for its lengthy and humorous name. This bird is also the symbol of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and of their laboratory at Sapsucker Woods, Ithaca NY.
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