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A photo of a Eurasian Three-toed Woodpecker (Picoides tridactylus), male
Eurasian Three-toed Woodpecker, Male

Eurasian Three-toed Woodpecker

Picoides tridactylus

The Eurasian three-toed woodpecker, Picoides tridactylus, presents a striking black and white plumage, with the male distinguished by a yellow crown. This medium-sized woodpecker, slightly smaller than its cousin the great spotted woodpecker, measures 21–22 cm in length. It lacks any red feathers, a characteristic feature among many woodpeckers. The wings and rump are black, while the underparts are white with black bars on the flanks. The back is similarly patterned with black bars on a white background, and the tail is black with white outer feathers barred with black.

Identification Tips

When identifying the Eurasian three-toed woodpecker, look for its barred black and white flanks and the absence of red feathers. The male's yellow crown is a key distinguishing feature. Juveniles share this yellow crown, aiding in identification across ages.

Habitat

This species favors coniferous forests, where it can be found from the lowlands to mountainous regions, including the Alps and the Carpathian Mountains.

Distribution

The Eurasian three-toed woodpecker has a broad range across the Palearctic, from northern Europe through to Korea, with populations also established in central and southeastern Europe.

Behaviour

These woodpeckers are generally permanent residents, though some northern and high-altitude populations may move to lower elevations or latitudes during winter. They are known to occupy areas with large numbers of insect-infested trees, often appearing after events such as forest fires or flooding.

Song & Calls

The vocalization of the Eurasian three-toed woodpecker can be described as a sharp "kik" or "chik," a call that echoes through their coniferous home.

Breeding

Breeding takes place in coniferous forests, with nests constructed in cavities of dead conifers, occasionally in live trees or poles. Each year, pairs will excavate a new nest for their offspring.

Diet and Feeding

The diet consists primarily of wood-boring beetle larvae and other insects found on conifers. They may also consume fruit and tree sap, particularly when insects are less abundant.

Conservation status

The Eurasian three-toed woodpecker is currently listed as Least Concern by the IUCN, indicating a stable population without significant immediate threats to its survival.

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