BLACK-BACKED WOODPECKER – (Picoides arcticus)
The Black-backed woodpecker is also known as the Arctic three-toed woodpecker and this is included in its Latin name, even if it doesn’t breed in the Arctic. Its total breeding range encompasses much of the Canadian and upper USA forest, including Alaska. It is mainly a year-round resident on its territory, with only partial migration to the south in the mid-part of USA.
This woodpecker measures around 20 cm (8 in.) long. As the English name implies, this woodpecker has a black back, a black head (with a yellow patch for the male), black wings and upper tail. The under parts are white with black streaks on the sides. Sexes are similar. The Black-backed woodpecker is similar to the American three-toed woodpecker, but the former has more black on the back and no white barring behind the eye.
The black-backed woodpecker prefers recently burnt forests, feeding on wood-boring beetles that attack remaining trunks.
NOTES: As for many other woodpeckers, the black-backed woodpecker has two forward and two backward toes, which allows better grip when climbing vertically on tree trunks. In addition, their tail feathers have stiff ends to provide more support.
For some information on woodpecker drumming, please click here.
Although a year-round resident and a breeding bird on PEI, the black-backed woodpecker is a rare occurrence for all seasons.