© Copyright: Images: Jari Peltomäki, Kari Pihlaviita, M. & W. von Wright: Svenska fåglar (Kansalliskirjasto, The National Library of Finland). Recording: Jan-Erik Bruun. All rights reserved.

Three-toed Woodpecker

Picoides tridactylus

  • Name also: Eurasian Three-toed Woodpecker
  • Family: Woodpeckers – Picidae
  • Appearance: A medium-sized woodpecker, with no red colouring. Upper parts black and white, underparts pale with dense crosswise dark streaking.
  • Size: Length 21.5–24 cm, weight 60–85 g.
  • Nest: In a hole in a living or dead tree at a height of 1–7 metres.
  • Breeding: 3–6 eggs laid in May, incubated by both parents for 11 days. Fledglings learn to fly within 22–25 days.
  • Distribution: Breeds almost throughout Finland, but scarce in southern regions. Prefers old-growth coniferous forests with dry spruce trees. Finnish population estimated at 15,000–20,000 pairs.
  • Migration: Sedentary, though may roam irregularly in some years.
  • Diet: Specialist feeder, seeks out bark beetle grubs. May remove the bark entirely from dead spruce trees.
  • Calls: A soft, gentle “kyik”. Drums during the mating season.
  • Endangerment: Least concern, protected throughout the country, including the Åland Islands.

Three-toed Woodpeckers are smaller and darker than the more familiar Great Spotted Woodpecker. Distinguishing features include a long white patch running down the back, black and white bands on head, and dark crosswise striping on underparts. Additionally, Three-toed Woodpeckers have no red colouring in their plumage. Juveniles and males have yellow caps.

Three-toed Woodpeckers’ legs are dark. As the species’ name indicates, they have only three toes on each foot (other woodpeckers have four). Their beaks are dark bluish grey with a black tip, and their irises may be blue and white (adults) or brown (juveniles).

Other species from the same family

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