|Male in Brunswick, Vermont, United States|
|Female in Quebec, Canada|
|Range of P. arcticus |
Occasional winter range
The black-backed woodpecker (Picoides arcticus) also known as the Arctic three-toed woodpecker is a medium-sized woodpecker (23 cm (9.1 in) long) inhabiting the forests of North America.
The black-backed woodpecker was described and illustrated by the English naturalist William John Swainson in 1832 from a specimen collected near the source of the Athabasca River on the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains in Alberta, Canada. He coined the binomial name Picus arcticus. The specific epithet arcticus is the Latin word for "northern" or "arctic". The black-backed woodpecker is now placed in the genus Picoides was erected by the French naturalist Bernard Germain de Lacépède in 1799. The species is monotypic: no subspecies are recognised.
The plumage of adults is black on the head, back, wings and rump. They are white from the throat to the belly; the flanks are white with black bars. Their tail is black with white outer feathers. There is an element of sexual dimorphism in the plumage, with the adult male possessing a yellow cap. Unlike all other woodpeckers except the related American and Eurasian three-toed woodpeckers, this species has three-toed feet.
- Length: 9.1 in (23 cm)
- Weight: 2.1-3.1 oz (61-88 g)
- Wingspan: 15.8-16.5 in (40-42 cm)
Habitat and breeding
Their breeding range is boreal forest across Canada, Alaska, the north-western United States, as well as northern Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Upper Michigan. In particular the species is a burnt-forest specialist, feeding on the outbreaks of wood-boring beetles that feed on recently burnt trees. The most important wood boring beetles taken are in the families Cerambycidae and Buprestidae, along with engraver beetles and Mountain pine beetle. Most food is obtained by pecking, a smaller proportion is obtained by gleaning off branches. Black-backed woodpeckers are generally non-migratory but historically have undertaken intermittent irruptions.
Nest excavation occurs in April and May; a fresh nest is drilled each year into the sapwood of dead trees. Abandoned nests are used by other species of bird to nest in. The female lays three or four eggs, and incubation duties are shared between both parents, although the male alone incubates during the night. Upon hatching the altricial chicks are brooded until the nestling phase. Both parents feed the chicks, which take about 24 days to fledge.
The call note of the black-backed woodpecker is a single, sharp pik, and is lower pitched than the call of the American three-toed woodpecker.
- BirdLife International (2012). "Picoides arcticus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2012. Retrieved 26 November 2013.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)old-form url
- Swainson, William John; Richardson, J. (1831). Fauna boreali-americana, or, The zoology of the northern parts of British America. Part 2. The Birds. London: J. Murray. p. 313. The title page bears the year 1831 but the volume did not appear until 1832.
- Jobling, James A. (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London: Christopher Helm. p. 53. ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4.
- Lacépède, Bernard Germain de (1799). "Tableau des sous-classes, divisions, sous-division, ordres et genres des oiseux". Discours d'ouverture et de clôture du cours d'histoire naturelle (in French). Paris: Plassan. p. 7. Page numbering starts at one for each of the three sections.
- Gill, Frank; Donsker, David; Rasmussen, Pamela, eds. (2020). "Woodpeckers". IOC World Bird List Version 10.1. International Ornithologists' Union. Retrieved 1 June 2020.
- "Black-backed Woodpecker Identification, All About Birds, Cornell Lab of Ornithology". www.allaboutbirds.org. Retrieved 26 September 2020.
- ebird. "eBird Range Map--Black-backed Woodpecker". ebird.org. Retrieved 10 July 2017.
- "Minnesota Breeding Bird Map List: Minnesota DNR". www.dnr.state.mn.us. Retrieved 10 July 2017.
- "TaxonomicListing". www.mibirdatlas.org. Archived from the original on 6 August 2017. Retrieved 10 July 2017.
- Woodpecker knows
- Dixon, Rita D., and Victoria A. Saab. (2000). Black-backed woodpecker (Picoides arcticus), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online: http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/species/509
- National Geographic's Field Guide to the Birds of North America, Third Edition; Describes call note
Data related to Picoides arcticus at Wikispecies
- Black-backed woodpecker - Picoides arcticus - USGS Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter
- Black-backed Woodpecker Species Account - Cornell Lab of Ornithology
- "Black-backed woodpecker media". Internet Bird Collection.
- Black-backed woodpecker photo gallery at VIREO (Drexel University)
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