Williamson's Sapsucker
(Sphyrapicus thyroideus)


Picture of bird
© Les Gyug
For additional photos and vocalizations, visit Dendroica. (Link opens in a new window.)

The Williamson's Sapsucker breeds in the mountains of southern interior British Columbia, where it is largely restricted to mature forests of western larch. There are no long-term population monitoring data for this species in Canada, but the population is believed to have decreased since about 1970 due to the loss of its specialised habitat (COSEWIC 2005, ECCC 2016c). The Williamson's Sapsucker was listed as Endangered in Canada under the Species at Risk Act in 2006 because of its small population size and continued habitat loss; it was reassessed as such in 2017 by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC 2005, ECCC 2016c). This species has been identified as a priority for conservation and/or stewardship in one or more Bird Conservation Region Strategies in Canada.


Main designations for the species
DesignationStatusDateSubspecies, population
COSEWIC (Canada)Endangered2017 
SARA (Canada)Endangered2006 
IUCN (Global)Least concern2018 
Wild Species (Canada)Vulnerable2015 
Bird Conservation Region StrategyPriority Species2013 

Population status

Geographic area or populationPopulation change relative to ~1970ReliabilityStatus in relation to goal
CanadaData DeficientData DeficientBelow Acceptable Level

Population estimate

Geographic area or populationPopulation estimate
Canada< 1,000 adults

Distribution maps


Migration strategy, occurrence

Short-distance migrant

Responsibility for conservation

Geographic areaResponsibility based on % of global population
CanadaVery Low

Conservation and management

In Canada, the Williamson's Sapsucker is strongly associated with mature western larch forests, and the availability of this habitat is thought to limit its distribution and population (Cannings et al. 1987, Gyug et al. 2012, COSEWIC 2005). Habitat loss from logging is thought to be the main threat to the species in Canada (van Gils et al. 2016). New survey techniques, perhaps based on call/drum playbacks, are needed to effectively monitor Williamson's Sapsucker population trends (Gyug et al. 2012). For information on the legal status of this species under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) and to view available recovery documents, see the SARA Registry.


Bird conservation region strategies

Environment and Climate Change Canada and partners have developed Bird Conservation Region Strategies in each of Canada’s Bird Conservation Regions (BCRs). In these strategies, selected species are identified as priorities for one or more of the following reasons:

  • conservation concerns (i.e., species vulnerable due to population size, distribution, population trend, abundance, or threats)
  • stewardship responsibilities (i.e., species that typify the regional avifauna or have a large proportion of their range or population in the sub-region)
  • management concerns (i.e., species that require ongoing management because of their socio-economic importance as game species, or because of their impacts on other species or habitats)
  • other concerns (i.e., species deemed a priority by regional experts for other reasons than those listed above or because they are listed as species at risk or concern at the provincial level)

Select any of the sub-regions below to view the BCR strategy for additional details.

BCRs, marine biogeographic units, and sub-regions in which the species is listed as a priority
RegionSub-region and priority type
Great BasinGreat Basin, sub-region and priority type: Pacific and Yukon -- Conservation
Northern RockiesNorthern Rockies, sub-region and priority type: Pacific and Yukon -- Conservation & Stewardship