Three-toed Woodpecker

photo by Phil Swanson

Picoides tridactylus
L 8 3/4″ (22 cm).

Song or calls:
Call is sharp “pik.” Drumming increases in tempo towards the end.

Description: Yellow cap; black head with white facial markings; black-and-white barred back; black wings, rump,and tail; and white underparts with black barring on the flanks. Female is similar but lacks yellow cap.

Behavior: Less active than other woodpeckers; will spend minutes at a time in one spot.

Habitat: Often found in burned-over stands of coniferous forests.

Where in Nebraska: Accidental. Single specimen record from Scotts Bluff County in 1916, and several unreliable sightings.

Fun Facts: Most woodpeckers have four toes but the Three-toed Woodpecker and the Black-backed Woodpecker both have only three toes, possibly to deliver more force when drilling.

male Three-toed Woodpecker - photo by Phil Swanson Three-toed Woodpecker - photo by Phil Swanson
(click image for larger view)