Living Bird Magazine
Black-backed WoodpeckerPicoides arcticus
- ORDER: Piciformes
- FAMILY: Picidae
An uncommon woodpecker of the northern coniferous forests, the Black-backed Woodpecker prefers burned-over sites. It moves from place to place, following outbreaks of wood-boring beetles in recently burned habitats.More ID Info
- Pico Ártico (Spanish)
- Pic à dos noir (French)
- Cool Facts
- A curious aspect of the Black-backed Woodpecker's distribution is its apparent absence from the central and southern Rocky Mountains. It reaches its southernmost distribution in Wyoming and the Black Hills of South Dakota, while the American Three-toed Woodpecker ranges into isolated mountain ranges of Arizona and New Mexico. On the Pacific Coast, however, the American Three-toed Woodpecker rarely occurs as far southward as southern Oregon, while the Black-backed Woodpecker reaches the Sierra Nevada of central California.
- During the nonbreeding season, individual Black-backed Woodpeckers may move to areas south of the regular breeding range. Movements may be just a few wandering individuals or irruptions involving many birds. Winter records have occurred southward to Iowa, central Illinois, northern Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, New Jersey, and Delaware. Irruptions have been attributed to a lack of wood-boring insect prey on their normal range or to overpopulation following an insect outbreak.
- The oldest recorded Black-backed Woodpecker was a male, and was at least 4 years, 11 months old when it was recaptured and rereleased during banding operations in Idaho.