Eurasian Three-toed Woodpecker (Picoides tridactylus)

Eurasian Three-toed Woodpecker

[order] PICIFORMES | [family] Picidae | [latin] Picoides tridactylus | [UK] Eurasian Three-toed Woodpecker | [FR] Pic tridactyle | [DE] Dreizehen-Specht | [ES] Pico tridactilo | [NL] Drieteenspecht


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range
Picoides tridactylus EU widespread
Picoides tridactylus albidior Kamchatka Pen. (e Siberia)
Picoides tridactylus alpinus c and se Europe to w Ukraine and Romania
Picoides tridactylus crissoleucus n Ural Mts. to e Siberia
Picoides tridactylus funebris c China
Picoides tridactylus inouyei Hokkaido (Japan)
Picoides tridactylus kurodai ne China and n Korea
Picoides tridactylus tianschanicus e Kazakhstan and w China
Picoides tridactylus tridactylus n Europe to the s Ural Mts. to se Siberia and ne China

Physical charateristics

Medium-sized woodpecker with black-and-white barred upperparts, black head, yellow crown, white eye-line, throat, breast, and belly, and diagonally barred white flanks. Wings are black with white spots; rump is black; tail is black with white outer feathers. Female lacks yellow crown.

wingspan min.: 32 cm wingspan max.: 35 cm
size min.: 21 cm size max.: 22 cm
incubation min.: 10 days incubation max.: 12 days
fledging min.: 22 days fledging max.: 12 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 3  
      eggs max.: 5  


Eurasia : widespread


Resident in continental west Palearctic, occupying 2 distinct habitat groups: 1st in high and upper middle latitudes, largely lowland; 2nd in mid-latitudes in mountains between 650 m and 1900 m in central Europe. In 1st, boreal/arctic, largely in dense coniferous forests (taiga), with preference for shady, damp, sometimes swampy patches, and areas with much dead wood resulting from fire, lumbering, or windthrow. In 2nd group, mid-latitude subalpine habitat in Switzerland consists of steep inaccessible slopes, often dominated by old spruce. Nest-site usually in more open part even of dark closed forest, perhaps created by avalanche, windthrow, or other disturbance, which often goes with higher ratio of decayed or fallen timber. Occurrences also sometimes recorded in separated tree-stands with little fallen timber.


Three to six white eggs are laid in a nest made of bark chips built in a dead tree cavity, usually up to 45 feet above the ground; conifers and aspens are most frequently used. Incubation ranges from 12 to 14 days and is carried out by both parents.

Feeding habits

Eats larvae of tree-dwelling insects, spiders, some berries, and bark cambium; female forages higher than male.


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 is not known, but the population is not believed to be decreasing sufficiently rapidly to approach the thresholds 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.
Eurasian Three-toed Woodpecker status Least Concern


Resident and dispersive; eruptive to limited extent. To some extent nomadic in winter in Russia, where recorded as far south as Kaluga, Tula, and Voronezh. In small-scale Scandinavian eruptions, mid-September to mid-November, a few individuals reach south-west Norway and southern Sweden, beyond breeding range, and have (exceptionally) even reached Denmark and Germany. Upland populations of central Europe are sedentary, even in severe winters.

Distribution map

Eurasian Three-toed Woodpecker distribution range map

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