The Pacific coast representative of the yellow-bellied sapsucker complex, the red-breasted sapsucker differs from other sapsuckers in its almost entirely red head and breast. Identification is complicated by frequent hybridization with the red-naped from British Columbia south to eastern California, as well as by more limited hybridization with the yellow-bellied in British Columbia. Polytypic. Length 8".
The head and breast are almost entirely red, and the black breast patch is lacking. The back shows 2 rows of whitish or yellow-buff spots or bars, but this patterning is very limited in northern birds. Adult: red head and breast, pale yellow belly, back black with geographically variable yellow-buff to white barring on the sides of the back and lower back; white