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Three-toed Woodpecker Picoides tridactylus


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Three-toed Woodpecker
credit: pbonenfant/CCSA

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

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Family: Picidae, Woodpeckers view all from this family

Description ADULT MALE Has mostly black upperparts with subtle white barring down the center of the back, and on flight feathers and outer tail feather. Face is mainly black but with yellow crown and white stripe behind eye (linking to back) and white facial stripe. Throat and underparts are white with dark barring on flanks. ADULT FEMALE Similar, but crown is speckled white (not yellow). JUVENILE Similar to adult female, but with some dull yellow on crown.

Dimensions Length: 8 1/2" (22 cm)

Habitat Widespread, but generally rather scarce in old-growth pine and spruce forest. Mostly resident, but nomadic to a degree outside the breeding season in search of food, visiting burned woodland with standing dead trees.

Observation Tips Presence detected by the call, or discovery of fallen bark at base of tree.

Range Plains, Western Canada, Great Lakes, Northwest, New England, Alaska, Mid-Atlantic, Rocky Mountains, Southwest, Eastern Canada

Voice Utters a sharp wik or pik.

Discussion Stocky, medium-sized woodpecker with three toesótwo forward-pointing, one pointing backward (apart from Black-backed, all other North American woodpeckers have four toes). Not unduly wary, but unobtrusive and easily overlooked. Feeds mainly on wood-boring beetles, located by drilling and bark-stripping. Sexes are separable with care.