The yellow-bellied sapsucker is a small black and white woodpecker with long wings, a stiff pointed tail, and stout straight bill.
Male yellow-bellied sapsuckers have a black back mottled with white, black breast, and white or pale yellow underparts. There is a long white vertical stripe along the folded wing. The head is boldly patterned with a black stripe through the eye while the forehead and neck are red. The crown feathers are often held erect to form a crown at the back of the head.
The eyes are dark brown, the bill is dark grey or black, and the legs and feet are blue-grey or green-grey. Females are similar to males but have a lighter red crown and white throat.
Like our more familiar woodpeckers, the yellow-bellied sapsucker drums on trees to communicate in rapid bursts that become more drawn out over time.