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American Three-toed Woodpecker

Picoides dorsalis ORDER: PICIFORMES FAMILY: PICIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

Found in boreal forests and montane coniferous forests across North America. Because of its choice of habitat, it is infrequently seen by most people.

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At a GlanceHelp

Measurements
Both Sexes
Length
7.9 in
20 cm
Weight
2.3 oz
65 g
Other Names
  • Northern Three-toed Woodpecker, Three-toed Woodpecker
  • Pic à dos rayé (French)
  • Carpintero de tres dedos (Spanish)

Cool Facts

  • The American Three-toed Woodpecker breeds farther north than any other American woodpecker. The closely related Eurasian Three-toed Woodpecker is the only woodpecker in the world that extends farther north.
  • The "Three-toed Woodpecker" was split in 2003 into the American Three-toed and Eurasian Three-toed woodpeckers. The two species are nearly identical in appearance, but differ in mitochondrial DNA sequences and in voice.
  • Most woodpeckers have four toes on each foot. The three-toed and Black-backed woodpeckers have only three. The loss of the fourth toe may help deliver stronger blows, but at the expense of climbing ability.

Habitat


Forest

  • Boreal and montane coniferous forests, especially mature forests with abundance of insect-infested snags or dying trees, and spruce forests.
  • Uses forests disturbed by disease, fire, or other disasters.

Food


Insects

Larvae of bark beetles and wood-boring beetles.

Nesting

Nesting Facts
Clutch Size
3–7 eggs
Egg Description
White, rather round.
Condition at Hatching
Naked and helpless.
Nest Description

Nest in hole in trunk of tree; chips or wood fibers in bottom of cavity.

Nest Placement

Cavity

Behavior


Bark Forager

Forages mostly on trunks, not branches or fallen logs. Strips bark from trees.

Conservation

status via IUCN

Least Concern

Sensitive to forest fragmentation. Timber harvest may lead to decline. Species of concern in several states.

Credits

    1. Banks, R. C., et al. 2003. Forty-fourth supplement to the American Ornithologists' Union Check-list of North American Birds. Auk 120: 923-931.
    2. Leonard, D. L., Jr. 2001. Three-toed Woodpecker (Picoides tridactylus). In The Birds of North America, No. 588 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Birds of North America, Inc., Philadelphia, PA.

Range Map Help

American Three-toed Woodpecker Range Map
View dynamic map of eBird sightings