Red-naped Sapsucker, Sphyrapicus nuchalis
Introduction to the species
“On May 13, 1915, I saw a red-naped sapsucker drumming on a hollow, dead lodgepole pine; soon he flew to the top of another pine, where his mate was, and the two began bobbing and curtsying in true cake-walk fashion …There was no movement of the feet, but the body was bent from side to side, and there was a constant ‘juggling’ motion.”
-M.P. Skinner, in Bent 1939
Like its Sphyrapicus relatives, the Red-naped Sapsucker plays a keystone role in forest ecology by excavating cavities that are later used by numerous secondary cavity nesters and by drilling sap wells at which many small birds feed. Breeding among the “sky islands” of the Great Basin and surrounding states, the Red-naped Sapsucker is one of our most migratory woodpeckers, occasionally reaching the southern end of central Mexico’s Sierra Madre Occidental and rarely occurring as far south as Honduras.