This colourful bird with a red cap occurs in most of the forested areas of Canada that are east of the Rocky Mountains, and is one of the few species of migratory woodpeckers that occur in this country. The species gets its common name from the yellowish wash of colour across its chest, belly and back. The males have a very distinct red patch on the throat, while the same area in the females is white.
These woodpeckers feed, to a great extent, on sap and cambium (inner bark) which they obtain by drilling holes in the trunks of trees. These peculiar holes indicate the presence of Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers in the area. Insects are also part of this bird's diet and are captured, as is the sap, by means of a long, rough tongue. Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers range in size from 18 to 22 cm (7 to 9 in.). Their wingspan is 34 to 40 cm (13 to 16 in.).