In South Dakota, the Black-backed Woodpecker is
generally found only in the higher elevation Black Hills, frequenting burned
forest areas and windfalls as well as healthy conifer forest. Feeding
primarily on wood-boring insects and insect larvae, they forage by stripping
large pieces of bark off of trees and feeding on the exposed insects. They
are closely related to the very similar Three-toed Woodpecker, and indeed used
to be called the "Black-backed Three-toed Woodpecker". A
female is depicted on the right, while a male (note the yellow cap) is depicted
prefer areas of dead or dying conifers due to the larvae of wood-boring beetles
that are often found in such areas. This includes burned, flooded,
insect-damaged, or weather-damaged forests. They may also be found in
healthy coniferous forests. In the U.S. and much of Canada, they are
generally found in higher elevations. In the northern half of Canada, they
are found in lowlands.
Diet: Primarily feeds on the larvae of wood-boring
beetles. They will also eat other insects, spiders, fruits, and nuts.
Behavior: Moves methodically on trunks and major
branches of dead standing trees and fallen logs, flaking off bark in search
of insects underneath. They will also clamber along branches in live
trees in search of insects, and move through foliage when foraging on
fruits, nuts, and berries.
Nesting: June and July
Song: Often quiet, but will occasionally make a single note, abrasive call, kyik.
Migration: Generally not migratory, but
populations do shift as previously burned areas revegetate and new forest areas
are burned or otherwise damaged.
Status: Overall populations are relatively stable, but locally, populations rise and
fall with availability of suitable habitat and associated forage insects.
Cornell University's "All About Birds - Black-backed Woodpecker"
Photo Information: Top Photo: March 6th, 2004 -- Near Sturgis --
Bottom Photo: March 14th, 2004 -- Vanocker Canyon --
Krueger and Scott Weins