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The Red-naped Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus nuchalis) is a woodpecker of the lower elevations of the Rocky Mountains. It is closely related to the Yellow-bellied and Red-breasted sapsuckers - it interbreeds with the Yellow-bellied at the eastern edge of its breeding range and with the Red-breasted to the West, though all three species are known to hybridize with each other, with hybrids between red-naped and red-breasted sapsuckers proving particularly common. The resulting hybrids can be difficult to identify. Sapsuckers do not suck sap, but are specialized for sipping it. Their tongues are shorter than those of other woodpeckers, and do not extend as far out. The tip of the tongue has small hair-like projections on it that help pick up the sap. The genus name Sphyrapicus is a combination of the Greek words sphura, meaning "hammer" and pikos, meaning "woodpecker". The specific name nuchalis is a modern Latin word meaning "of the nape". In its common name, "red-naped" refers to the red patch on the back of the bird's head, while "sapsucker" refers to its distinctive method of feeding.
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