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Eurasian Three-toed Woodpecker - BirdForum Opus

Photo by Tichodroma
Austria, Summer 2007
Picoides tridactylus



  • Black head, wings and rump
  • White throat and belly
  • White, black barred flanks
  • White back with black bars
  • Black tail with white, black barred, outer feathers
  • Male has yellow cap


Breeds throughout most of Fenno-Scandia (except the far north, the higher mountains and south-west Norway), parts of eastern and southern Poland and the Baltic States and across Russia between about 660 and 530N. Isolated populations exist in Central Europe mainly in the Alps and Carpathians with a few scattered pockets of distribution in the Balkans.

Occurs across Asia from the Urals to China and Kamchatka and a rare breeder in Hokkaido, Japan. Isolated populations in the Tien Shan Mts and in western China.

Mainly resident but may be nomadic, dispersive or eruptive in far north of range.

Vagrants recorded in Denmark and Germany.


Has been considered conspecific with American Three-toed Woodpecker.


There are 5 subspecies[1]:

  • P. t. tridactylus:
  • P. t. crissoleucus: paler-headed than nominate
  • Northern taiga from Ural Mountains to Sea of Okhotsk
  • P. t. albidior: smaller than nominate with whiter plumage
  • Kamchatka Peninsula
  • P. t. alpinus: darker than nominate with dark barring on the back and bolder flank markings
  • Mountains of Europe to north-eastern Korea and northern Japan (Hokkaido)
  • P. t. funebris: darker than other races with less white on back


Main habitat is coniferous forest with abundant dead wood, often around swampy areas, sometimes in birch and willow. In the south of range found in conifers on mountainsides. Has been observed at heights around 1285m.



They nest in cavities.


The diet includes insects, larvae, fruit and tree sap.



  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, B.L. Sullivan, C. L. Wood, and D. Roberson. 2012. The eBird/Clements Checklist of Birds of the World. 6th ed., with updates to October 2012. Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press. ISBN 978-0801445019. Spreadsheet available at http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/downloadable-clements-checklist
  2. Woodpeckers of Europe: A Study of the European Picidae. Gerard Gorman. ISBN 1-872842-05-4
  3. Wikipedia

BF Member observations

Recommended Citation

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