Photographing The Three Toed Woodpecker

Here's a handy guide from Eschenbach to identify and help you photograph the three toed woodpecker.

| Eschenbach Binoculars Arena D+ 10x50 B in Animals / Wildlife

Photographing The Three Toed Woodpecker: Woodpecker

The three-toed woodpecker has only six toes in total but despite that, he can move fast up the trees to pick insects from their trunks.


The three-toed woodpecker is a very agile bird that measures 21 to 22 centimetres; he is slightly smaller than the common woodpecker. Unlike most of the other birds, he has only three toes per foot: two at the front and one at the back. That’s a great characteristic for vertical climbing on trunks.

Both males and females have strong feathers with black and white patterns. Along the spine, there's a wide white stripe. The flanks and the upper wings are black. The feathers of the tail are mainly black, with a black and white pattern on the bottom. The abdomen is also black and white. Again, the head is covered with black and white stripes, and the eyebrow is bright. The males have orange-yellow feathers on the top of their head, while females’ crests are of a black grey colour.


The three-toed woodpeckers’ breeding areas extend from Scandinavia to Poland and Russia, and all the way to Japan and the Kamchatka Peninsula. In north and central Europe, they tend to stay in the mountainous regions. The three-toed woodpecker is a bird of the forests, the taiga and the mountains. They particularly enjoy thorny and mixed forests with a lot of old or dead trees, as it is in those kinds of forests that they find their food. Three-toed woodpeckers usually choose to nest in dead conifers cavities, sometimes in live trees or poles.


Photographing Tips

Thanks to its powerful beak, the Three-toed woodpecker picks various diurnal insects - such as bark beetles - and their larvae under trees’ bark. It jumps and moves easily from the top to the bottom of vertical tree trunks. The bird is not particularly shy but can hide quickly if it feels threatened.

Old trees are crucial to the Three-toed woodpecker: he finds his food on their barks and he also uses them to breed. Every year, the males build a brand new nest into the cavity of a dead tree. The eggs are covered for approx. 12 days. When the nestling hatches, the parents take care of the chicks during more or less 3 weeks. Even if the young three-toed woodpeckers leave the nest after that, they are not left on their own: the parents often stay around to teach them how to survive in the forest.

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