Spotlight on the Williamson’s Sapsucker

Okanagan Similkameen Conservation Alliance  williamson_sapsucker
Latin Name: Sphyrapicus Thyroideus
Federal Status: Endangered
Provincial Status:


Williamson’s sapsucker males have a black head, body and breast; narrow white stripes on the head; a red chin and throat; yellow belly; and a white rump and large white wing patch. Females have a brown head and wings with white bars; large dark patch on the breast, a white rump and a variably yellow belly. Calls include the “cheeur” call and the scold (sounds like a soft “churrr") given near the nest or sap trees. Tapping consists of a series of irregular, broken rhythm blows. Williamson’s sapsuckers feed on sap and tree cambium during the pre-nesting period and mainly carpenter ants after young hatch.

Habitat and Distribution

Williamson’s Sapsucker has the most restricted distribution and lowest abundance of the four species of sapsuckers occurring in British Columbia. The bulk of its provincial range is located in the South Okanagan. This sapsucker forages in mature forests at moderately high elevations of 850-1500m. While most abundant in Western Larch forests, Williamson’s Sapsucker will also use Douglas-fir, Lodgepole Pine, Ponderosa Pine and aspen stands.


Williamson’s Sapsucker is Endangered in Canada due to its restricted range, low population size, dependency on mature forests and the threat of habitat loss. Approximately 300 – 500 pairs breed in BC’s Southern Interior.

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