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Picoides arcticus

Picoides arcticus

Cladus: Eukaryota
Supergroup: Opisthokonta
Regnum: Animalia
Subregnum: Eumetazoa
Cladus: Bilateria
Cladus: Nephrozoa
Cladus: Deuterostomia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Infraphylum: Gnathostomata
Superclassis: Tetrapoda
Classis: Aves
Subclassis: Carinatae
Infraclassis: Neornithes
Parvclassis: Neognathae
Ordo: Piciformes
Familia: Picidae
Subfamilia: Picinae
Genus: Picoides
Species: Picoides arcticus


Picoides arcticus (Swainson, 1832)


Fauna Boreali-Americana 2(1831) p.313

Vernacular names
Deutsch: Schwarzrückenspecht
English: Black-backed Woodpecker
Français: Pic à dos noir
Suomi: Nokitikka
Українська: Дятел чорноспинний

The Black-backed Woodpecker (Picoides arcticus) also known as the Arctic Three-toed Woodpecker is a medium-sized woodpecker inhabiting the forests of North America. It is a medium sized woodpecker (23 cm long).

The plumage of adults is black on the head, back, wings and rump. They are white from the throat to the belly; the flanks are white with black bars. Their tail is black with white outer feathers. There is an element of sexual dimorphism in the plumage, with the adult male possessing a yellow cap. Unlike all other woodpeckers except the related American and Eurasian Three-toed Woodpeckers, this species has three-toed feet.

Their breeding habitat is boreal forest across Canada, Alaska and the north-western United States. In particular the species is a burnt-forest specialist, feeding on the outbreaks of wood-boring beetles that feed on recently burnt trees. The most important wood boring beetles taken are in the families Cerambycidae and Buprestidae, along with engraver beetles and Mountain pine beetle. Most food is obtained by pecking, a smaller proportion is obtained by gleaning off branches. Black-backed Woodpecker are generally non-migratory but historically have undertaken intermittent irruptions.

Nest excavation occurs in April and May; a fresh nest is drilled each year into the sapwood of dead trees. Abandoned nests are used by other species of bird to nest in. The female lays 3 or 4 eggs, and incubation duties are shared between both parents, although the male alone incubates during the night. Upon hatching the altricial chicks are brooded until the nestling phase. Both parents feed the chicks, which take about 24 days to fledge.

The call note of the Black-backed Woodpecker is a single, sharp pik, and is lower pitched than the call of the American Three-toed Woodpecker.


* BirdLife International (2004). Picoides arcticus. 2006. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. www.iucnredlist.org. Retrieved on 11 May 2006. Database entry includes justification for why this species is of least concern
* Dixon, Rita D., and Victoria A. Saab. (2000). Black-backed Woodpecker (Picoides arcticus), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online: http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/species/509
* National Geographic's Field Guide to the Birds of North America, Third Edition; Describes call note

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