American Three-toed Woodpecker Identification

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The Four Keys to ID

  • Size & Shape

    A small woodpecker with a stout body and a fairly short but strong, chisel-like bill.

    Relative Size

    Larger than a Downy Woodpecker, smaller than a Hairy Woodpecker.

    Relative Sizerobin sizedrobin-sized
    • Both Sexes
      • Length: 8.3-9.1 in (21-23 cm)
      • Weight: 1.6-2.4 oz (44.8-67.9 g)
      • Wingspan: 14.6-15.3 in (37-39 cm)

Regional Differences

Three subspecies are named: dorsalis in the Rocky Mountains, bacatus in the Great Lakes eastward, and fasciatus from Alaska and western Canada southward into Idaho and Oregon. These subspecies differ mostly in the plumage of the back. Eastern bacatus has a very dark back with narrow pale bars that can be difficult to see at a distance, Rocky Mountain dorsalis has a back that appears almost white, and the back of northwestern fasciatus varies from dark to whitish.

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