American Three-toed Woodpecker Life History


Habitat Forests

  • 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.
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Food InsectsLarvae of bark beetles and wood-boring beetles.Back to top


Nest Placement

Nest Cavity

Nest Description

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

Nesting Facts
Clutch Size:3-7 eggs
Egg Description:White, rather round.
Condition at Hatching:Naked and helpless.
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Behavior Bark ForagerForages mostly on trunks, not branches or fallen logs. Strips bark from trees.Back to top


Conservation Low ConcernThe American Three-toed Woodpecker populations are difficult to estimate, though they appear to be stable according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey. Partners in Flight estimates a global breeding population of 1.1 million with 21% living in the U.S., and 79% living in Canada. They rate a 10 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score and are not on the 2014 State of the Birds Watch List. These woodpeckers are sensitive to forest fragmentation, and timber harvest may lead to a decline. The American Three-toed Woodpecker is of concern in several states.Back to top


Leonard Jr., David L. 2001. American Three-toed Woodpecker (Picoides dorsalis), version 2.0. In The Birds of North America (P. G. Rodewald, editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York, USA.

North American Bird Conservation Initiative. 2014. The State of the Birds 2014 Report. US Department of Interior, Washington, DC, USA.

Partners in Flight (2017). Avian Conservation Assessment Database. 2017.

Sibley, D. A. (2014). The Sibley guide to birds, second edition. Alfred A. Knopf, New York, USA.

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