Black-backed Woodpecker (Picoides arcticus)

Black-backed Woodpecker

[order] PICIFORMES | [family] Picidae | [latin] Picoides arcticus | [UK] Black-backed Woodpecker | [FR] Pic a dos noir | [DE] Schwarzrucken-Specht | [ES] Pico artico | [NL] Zwartrugspecht


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range
Veniliornis arcticus
Picoides arcticus NA n

Physical charateristics

Note the combination of the i solid i black back and i barred sides. Males have i yellow
caps. This and the Three-toed Woodpecker (both have three toes) inhabit the colder boreal forests; their presence can be detected by patches of bark scaled from dead conifers.

Listen to the sound of Black-backed Woodpecker

[audio: Woodpecker.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

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North America : North


Boreal forests of firs and spruce Favors areas of dead or dying conifers, and may concentrate at burned or flooded areas with many standing dead trees. Also in
undamaged forests of pine, Douglas-fir, hemlock, tamarack, and spruce, especially spruce bogs. Frequents lowlands in North, mountains in West.


Many aggressive displays, with complex harsh calls; some of these displays may also be used in courtship, such as crest raising and fluttering display flight.
b Nest: Site is in cavity in dead tree or stub, usually conifer such as spruce or pine, sometimes birch or other deciduous tree; occasionally in live tree or utility pole. Usually 2-
15′ above ground, rarely 50′ or higher. Cavity excavated by both sexes, with male often doing most of work. Bark usually cleared away from area around entrance hole. No nest material other than wood chips in cavity.
b Eggs: 3-4, sometimes 2-6. White. Incubation is by both sexes (male incubating at night and part of day), probably 12-14 days.
b Young: Both parents feed nestlings. Young thought to leave nest about 25 days after hatching. 1 brood per year.

Feeding habits

Mostly insects. Feeds mainly on the larvae of wood-boring beetles; also eats other insects, spiders, some fruits and nuts.
b Behavior: Typical foraging behavior involves methodically flaking the bark off of dead trees, searching for insects. May gradually remove the bark from an entire snag; may forage this way on fallen logs as well. Also gleans insec
ts from bark of live trees, rarely catches insects in flight.


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Black-backed Woodpecker status Least Concern


Boreal forests of northern North America. b Migration:
Not strictly migratory, but may move around in response to changing conditions, often moving int
o a region after fires kill many standing trees. Eastern birds occasionally stage irruptions in winter, a few showing up well south of breeding range.

Distribution map

Black-backed Woodpecker distribution range map

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