#472 Black-backed Woodpecker – (Picoides arcticus)

20 June

Uncommon but every couple of years one is observed in the further corners of the Morgan Arboretum.

Their breeding range is boreal forest across Canada, Alaska, the north-western United States, as well as northern Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Upper Michigan. 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 woodpeckers 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 three or four 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.
(* Image from Wikipedia)

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