Black-backed Woodpecker
(Picoides arcticus)

Summary

Picture of bird
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The Black-backed Woodpecker is a year-round resident of Canada's boreal forest, though it is more abundant in recently disturbed areas. It is an irruptive species, feeding on wood-boring insects (Tremblay et al. 2016). Results from the Breeding Bird Survey, supplemented by the Christmas Bird Count, suggest that the population has substantially increased since about 1970. With more than 90% of the global breeding population, Canada's responsibility for this species is very high. This species has been identified as a priority for conservation and/or stewardship in one or more Bird Conservation Region Strategies in Canada.

Designations

Main designations for the species
DesignationStatusDateSubspecies, population
IUCN (Global)Least concern2018 
Wild Species (Canada)Secure2015 
Bird Conservation Region StrategyPriority Species2013 

Population status

Geographic area or populationPopulation change relative to ~1970ReliabilityStatus in relation to goal
CanadaModerate IncreaseMediumAt an Acceptable Level
 

Population estimate

Geographic area or populationPopulation estimate
Canada1,000,000 - 5,000,000 adults
 

Distribution maps

 

Migration strategy, occurrence

Resident

Responsibility for conservation

Geographic areaResponsibility based on % of global population
CanadaVery High

General nesting period in Canada

Nesting period starts between early May and mid-May and ends between mid-July and late July, depending on the region. Before or after this period, the probability of an active nest is lower.
 

Conservation and management

The Black-backed Woodpecker depends on old stands of coniferous forest and recently disturbed stands (such as burned areas) for their primary food source, the larvae of wood-boring beetles (Tremblay et al. 2016). The species is thought to be negatively affected by habitat loss and degradation through forest management practices including salvage logging. Loss of mature and old forest stands are detrimental to the Black-backed Woodpecker by reducing the amount of suitable unburned habitats and the quality of future burned stands (Tremblay et al. 2016). Population growth of Black-backed Woodpeckers (and other irruptive species) may be extremely sensitive to prey availability of preferred food resources (Rota et al. 2015). Highly irruptive movements have been documented in southeastern Canada and northeastern United States in times of superabundant foods during insect outbreaks and forest fires (Tremblay et al. 2016).

 

Bird conservation region strategies

Environment and Climate Change Canada and partners have developed Bird Conservation Region Strategies in each of Canada’s Bird Conservation Regions (BCRs). In these strategies, selected species are identified as priorities for one or more of the following reasons:

  • conservation concerns (i.e., species vulnerable due to population size, distribution, population trend, abundance, or threats)
  • stewardship responsibilities (i.e., species that typify the regional avifauna or have a large proportion of their range or population in the sub-region)
  • management concerns (i.e., species that require ongoing management because of their socio-economic importance as game species, or because of their impacts on other species or habitats)
  • other concerns (i.e., species deemed a priority by regional experts for other reasons than those listed above or because they are listed as species at risk or concern at the provincial level)

Select any of the sub-regions below to view the BCR strategy for additional details.

BCRs, marine biogeographic units, and sub-regions in which the species is listed as a priority
RegionSub-region and priority type
Atlantic Northern ForestsAtlantic Northern Forests, sub-region and priority type: Atlantic, NB -- Conservation
Atlantic Northern ForestsAtlantic Northern Forests, sub-region and priority type: Quebec -- Other
Boreal Hardwood TransitionBoreal Hardwood Transition, sub-region and priority type: Quebec -- Other
Boreal Softwood ShieldBoreal Softwood Shield, sub-region and priority type: Atlantic, NL -- Stewardship
Boreal Softwood ShieldBoreal Softwood Shield, sub-region and priority type: Ontario -- Stewardship
Boreal Softwood ShieldBoreal Softwood Shield, sub-region and priority type: Prairie and Northern -- Stewardship
Boreal Softwood ShieldBoreal Softwood Shield, sub-region and priority type: Quebec -- Stewardship
Boreal Taiga PlainsBoreal Taiga Plains, sub-region and priority type: Prairie and Northern -- Other
Great BasinGreat Basin, sub-region and priority type: Pacific and Yukon -- Conservation
Taiga Shield and Hudson PlainsTaiga Shield and Hudson Plains, sub-region and priority type: Atlantic, NL -- Stewardship
Taiga Shield and Hudson PlainsTaiga Shield and Hudson Plains, sub-region and priority type: Ontario -- Stewardship
Taiga Shield and Hudson PlainsTaiga Shield and Hudson Plains, sub-region and priority type: Prairie and Northern -- Other
Taiga Shield and Hudson PlainsTaiga Shield and Hudson Plains, sub-region and priority type: Quebec -- Stewardship
 

References