Fun Black-backed Woodpecker Facts For Kids

Christian Mba
Oct 20, 2022 By Christian Mba
Originally Published on Aug 06, 2021
Edited by Isobel Murphy
One of the most interesting black-backed woodpecker facts is that it favors recently burned forests as their habitats

The black-backed woodpecker is a medium-sized bird species native to the boreal and montane North American forest range. It is also called the Arctic three-toed woodpecker.

This is because the black-backed woodpecker habitat range is from western Alaska to Nova Scotia. Black-backed woodpecker birds choose interesting habitats, including burned forest habitats.

They peck at the barks of burned and fire-killed trees, mainly conifer trees, to feed on insect larvae, particularly those of wood-boring beetles. The species shows some dimorphism, the male has distinctive yellow crown feathers on its head that the female doesn't.

The purpose of the yellow crest is to attract a female bird. The black-backed woodpecker species tends to form monogamous pairs that share the duties during breeding and nesting.

A typical black-backed woodpecker call is a sharp, fast, and low 'kyik'. The population and conservation status of this bird are classified as Stable and Least Concern respectively, but wildfire suppression and illegal logging in its range may pose a serious threat.

For more relatable content, check out these hummingbird facts and Toco toucan facts too.

Black-Backed Woodpecker Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a black-backed woodpecker?

The black-backed woodpecker (Picoides arcticus) is a bird.

What class of animal does a black-backed woodpecker belong to?

The black-backed woodpecker (Picoides arcticus) species belongs to the Aves class of animals

How many black-backed woodpeckers are there in the world?

The exact number of mature individuals of the black-backed woodpecker species in the world is unknown.

Where does a black-backed woodpecker live?

The black-backed woodpecker species is found in burned forests and boreal, coniferous forests of North America, covering a range from Nova Scotia to western Alaska. As well as North America, they are also prominent in Canada.

What is a black-backed woodpecker's habitat?

The black-backed woodpecker prefers a very specific habitat, a burned forest or a forest with dead trees. Apart from burned forests and fire-killed trees, the species is also sometimes found in coniferous forests.

Its habitat range can be described as one with mountains and in the northern Arctic forests. These forests charred by fire are around 2461 ft (750 m) above sea level. They nest in the bark and cavity of trees and are often seen pecking at the barks of trees to find insects and larvae for food.

Who do black-backed woodpeckers live with?

Black-backed woodpecker birds may live alone or in pairs.

How long does a black-backed woodpecker live?

A black-backed woodpecker lives for six to eight years.

How do they reproduce?

Black-backed woodpecker birds reproduce by mating and laying eggs in clutch sizes of two to six. Both males and females build the nest in a cavity of the bark of fire-killed trees. Both parents share incubation, feeding, and nesting duties as well, which last for 12-14 days.

The nest is usually 1.5-3 ft (5-10 m) from the ground. The young leave the nest 21-25 days after hatching. The nesting area and the family are staunchly defended during the breeding season by males of the black-backed woodpecker bird species.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of the black-backed woodpecker bird species according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature is Least Concern.

Black-Backed Woodpecker Fun Facts

What do black-backed woodpeckers look like?

The black-backed woodpecker is 9.1 in (23 cm) long on average and has a wingspan of 15.8-16.5 in (40-42 cm). It has primarily black upperparts, back, tail, head, and wings.

The upper wings of the black-backed woodpecker species have white bars and the feathers of its wing-coverts are blue. The tail also shows some white on its outer rectrices and underside. The breast, belly, and throat are all white.

These birds are also white on their flanks and sides with some black barring. From the ear to the neck, there is a prominent white stripe.

Black-backed woodpecker birds show a certain sexual dimorphism. Males have a bright, very-noticeable yellow crown on their forehead and head.

A female doesn't have this and she is also paler than the male. Juvenile birds are paler and browner as well. The bills of these birds are long and gray and are shaped like a chisel.

Their eyes are red-brown, and their feet are gray as well. Unlike most woodpecker birds, the black-backed woodpecker has three toes instead of four, which may be the reason that it is better at carving hollows in trees, since it can lean further back.

17 Amaze-wing Facts About The Black-Backed Woodpecker For Kids

How cute are they?

Black-backed woodpeckers are extremely cute, medium-sized animals. They are a beautiful black and white color and they have interesting habits. They only like to inhabit dead forests, they have a variety of different calls, and they are really fast and efficient peckers of deadwood. The yellow crown on their heads makes them look like royalty.

How do they communicate?

Black-backed woodpeckers communicate via different calls, including a sharp and fast 'kyik' between two mates, a long and grating 'wet-et-ddd-eee-yaaa' which signifies an encounter with another individual, or a juvenile's gurgling call.

How big is a black-backed woodpecker?

On average, black-backed woodpeckers are 9.1 in (23 cm) long, and they have a wingspan of 15.8-16.5 in (40-42 cm), which makes them two times smaller than the pileated woodpecker.

How fast can a black-backed woodpecker fly?

Black-backed woodpeckers may be able to achieve flight speeds close to 20 mph (35 kph).

How much does a black-backed woodpecker weigh?

A black-backed woodpecker weighs 2.1-3.1 oz (61-88 g).

What are the male and female names of the species?

Males and females of the black-backed woodpecker species are not referred to by specific names.

What would you call a baby black-backed woodpecker?

A baby or young black-backed woodpecker is called a 'chick'.

What do they eat?

Black-backed woodpeckers mainly feed on the larvae of insects beneath the trunks and bark of trees but they also feed on insects, arthropods, bark, seeds, fruit. They especially like feeding on the larvae of wood-boring beetles as food, which they mostly get from pecking at trees.

Are they poisonous?

No, black-backed woodpeckers are not poisonous.

Would they make a good pet?

No, they would not make a good pet. No one should attempt to take a black-backed woodpecker as a pet.

They are wild birds that live in a very specific habitat. Forest fire suppression has led to a decrease in their natural preferred habitat already, so they should be left out in the wild and their habitat should be preserved.

Did you know...

Black-backed woodpeckers do not have a ton of predators but black bears and Copper's hawks may try to feed on them. Their eggs and the young can be stolen for food by Douglas squirrels and flying squirrels.

The aptly named American three-toed woodpecker also has three toes just like the black-backed woodpecker. There are only three woodpecker species to have three toes instead of four. Apart from the American three-toed woodpecker and the black-backed woodpecker, the Eurasian three-toed woodpecker has three toes and it is native to a range in Europe and Asia.

The black-backed woodpecker may spread its wings and tail to appear hostile when it feels like its territory is being threatened.

The black-backed woodpecker may also use a live conifer tree or a utility pole for perching and shelter.

The black-backed woodpecker is mostly not a migratory bird, they very rarely undertake a migratory flight.

There is a species named the black-headed woodpecker from the family Picidae, that lives in the Asian countries of Cambodia, Myanmar, Vietnam, and Laos. It inhabits lowland and temperate forests in the tropical and subtropical zones in its geographic range. It's a Least Concern ranked species with a declining population trend, as per the IUCN.

How do you identify a black-backed woodpecker?

Black-backed woodpeckers can be identified easily with their black backs and white underparts. It is also known as the Arctic three-toed woodpecker because it looks similar to the American three-toed woodpecker, but the American three-toed woodpecker has bars that are white and black down its back.

The hairy woodpecker may also look similar, but it has a white back and underparts.

Are black-backed woodpeckers endangered?

No, black-backed woodpeckers are not endangered. Their populations are considered to be stable without many negative fluctuations, so their official status under the IUCN is Least Concern.

However, humans often tend to put out fires that are essential for these birds. This may cause these birds to become endangered.

Naturally occurring forest fires are essential to these woodpeckers and these fires are necessary since they lead to dead trees. A dead tree is important since it houses insect families for these woodpeckers to feed on.

The black-backed woodpecker is often attracted to new forest fires because it enables feeding on insect populations under the barks of each dead tree.

Populations of woodpeckers in northern America often use a dead tree for shelter as well. So, if the trend of fire suppression keeps up, this species may end up being endangered.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds from our palm warbler fun facts and Amazon parrot interesting facts pages.

You can occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable black-backed woodpecker coloring pages.

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Written by Christian Mba

Bachelor of Science specializing in Computer Science

Christian Mba picture

Christian MbaBachelor of Science specializing in Computer Science

Christian Mba is an experienced blogger and content writer with over a decade of experience. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science from Nigeria and has a keen interest in Python programming. Along with his writing and blogging expertise, he is also an SEO specialist with more than six years of experience. Chris, as he is commonly known, has a passion for music and enjoys playing the piano.

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