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The Black-backed Woodpecker

The Black-backed Woodpecker
Photo Information
Copyright: jeanpaul Bolduc (jeanpaul) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2097 W: 99 N: 3518] (14962)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2007-06-11
Categories: Birds
Camera: Kodak DX6490, 52.6mm
Exposure: f/6.2, 1/450 seconds
Photo Version: Original Version
Date Submitted: 2007-06-18 9:12
Viewed: 3233
Points: 18
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note [French]
Black-backed Woodpecker
Picoides arcticus
Family: Picidae

The Black-backed Woodpecker

The Black-backed Woodpecker is missing a hind toe and thus only has two toes in front and one behind. The male has a conspicuous yellow cap, which the female is lacking, solid black back, white below and heavily barred sides. The solid black color is glossy and reflects green on the back while the head reflects blue. The face pattern consists of a fine white line behind the eye. The bird is approximately 9 1/2" to 10" in length with a wingspread of 14-16". The female resembles the male except for the yellow cap and has the line of white behind the eye which is more conspicuous.

The Black-backed Woodpecker is an active bird, climbing along a branch looking for insects and in a few moments goes to another part of the same tree or to another tree. It hops down blackened/burnt trees, which blends in quite well, and strips away the bark to expose grubs. They generally inhabit the northern forests and can be detected by the large patches of bark removed from dead trees. The missing toe is no problem for this bird and it anchors him/her while stripping away the bark.


The song of the Black-backed Woodpecker a sharp or hard kik or pik sound and short. It is quite noisy in nesting areas and drums on trees during breeding season. During the middle hours of the day, it becomes silent.


Central Alaska to Canada southward through Northern US Rockies. It is a casual winter visitor to Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and Nebraska.


The nest of this species is generally excavated by both sexes, mostly the male, in the body of dead trees such as spruces and birches. The entrance hole is about 1 1/2-2" in diameter, and anywhere from 10-15" deep. The nest cavity is smooth and broad at the bottom and can be anywhere from 5-70 feet up from the ground. During the months of Mid-May to Mid-June, approximately 3-6 eggs are laid which are rounded and pure white and only one brood is raised in the season. Incubation is by both sexes which lasts approximately 14 days. The young follow their parents until autumn.

Natural Feeding Habits:

The Black-backed Woodpeckers diet includes approximatley 75% of insects such as wood-boring beetles, grubs, weevils, ants, ants, other beetles, and spiders. Besides insects, it also feeds on berries and other small fruits, acorns and nuts.

Other Names:

Other names for the Black-backed Woodpecker is Arctic Three-toed Woodpecker and the more common Three-toed Woodpecker

Alex99, dew77, ramthakur, valy67 has marked this note useful
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Critiques [Translate]

  • Great 
  • Alex99 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 4072 W: 133 N: 7096] (23735)
  • [2007-06-18 13:08]

Hi Jean Paul.
You managed to picture a very rare for me and very nice bird. I also like excellent POV and DOF: sharp main subject and well blurred impressive BG. Only trunk is OE a bit. My kind regards and best wishes.

  • Great 
  • dew77 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 4432 W: 248 N: 4028] (13270)
  • [2007-06-18 15:49]

Hello Jean Paul,
Very nice capture of this woodpecker.POV,BG,framing and pose of bird are excellent.

This Woodpecker has a different but very attractive plumage, JP.
Certain portions in this image are slightly over-exposed but do not affect the clarity of the subject.
TFS and regards.

Salut Jean-Paul,
C'est la première fois que je vois cette espèce; qu'elle beauté! Tu as bien su faire ressortir les détails sur ce bel oiseau foncé ce qui n'a pas dû être évident à calibrer. Même si l'arbre est un peu sur-exposé, je ne vois pas vraiment comment tu aurais pu faire autrement avec une couleur si foncées et ces zones d'ombres; bien joué! À bientôt,

Bonjour jean-Paul !
le camouflage de cet oiseau a l'air très efficace, je suis sûre qu'il est difficile de l'apercevoir, quand il est perché dans les arbres. Les détails sur l'oiseau sont super, et on le voit dans son environnment naturel. Félicitations !

  • Great 
  • joey Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1739 W: 224 N: 6872] (24909)
  • [2007-06-20 8:50]

Hi Jeanpaul,
a sharp and well composed shot.
Well done,

Belle capture de ce type de pic que je n'ai jamais vu.

Olá jeanpaul.
Bela imagem deste pica pau.
Cores e composição muito agradaveis.
Parabéns !
Henrique ººº

  • Great 
  • arfer Gold Star Critiquer [C: 2731 W: 0 N: 0] (0)
  • [2007-07-22 21:15]

Hello Jeanpaul

A very good shot of this female black backed woodpecker.They are a rare find.The details are very good with good focus and sharpness.The colours are well saturated,I like the placement in the frame .Nicely captured.TFS


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