White-backed woodpecker

(Dendrocopos leucotos)


White-backed woodpecker IUCN LEAST CONCERN (LC)


Facts about this animal

A medium-sized, black-and-white woodpecker, which is with an average length of 25 cm, a wingspan of 39 cm, and a body-weight of 99-115 g (European subspecies) slightly larger than the large spotted woodpecker.

The plumage of neck and upper back is glossy black, upper-rump and lower-back are white. In males the crown is red, in females whitish. The face is white with a black T-shaped stripe running from the bill to the ear and down to the flanks which are covered with long black streaks. The wings are black-and-white barred, the upper-tail coverts and most of the rectrices are black. The outer rectrices are white with thin black barring. The ventral region and under-tail coverts are pink, and not strongly demarcated from the whitish belly.

Courtship behaviour starts in February. Both, male and female, work for 2 to 4 weeks on excavating a nest hollow in the soft wood of a dead or decaying tree. 3 to 5 eggs are laid as from late April. The incubation period lasts for 14-16 days. Both parents participate in brooding and feeding the young, whitch fledge at an age of 27-28 days.

White-backed woodpeckers feed on large wood-boring insect larvae.

Did you know?
that the white-backed woodpecker used to be one of the most common woodpecker species in Scandinavia, but that as a result of forest-fire suppression and increasingly intense industrial forestry has become critically endangered in that region?


Class AVES
Name (Scientific) Dendrocopos leucotos
Name (English) White-backed woodpecker
Name (French) Pic à dos blanc
Name (German) Weissrückenspecht
Name (Spanish) Pico dorsiblanco
Local names Czech: Strakapoud belohrbetý
Estonian: Valgeselg-kirjurähn
Finnish: Valkoselkätikka
Hungarian: Fehérhátú fakopáncs
Italian: Picchio dorsobianco
Latvian: Baltnugaris genys
Norwegian: Hvitryggspett
Swedish: Vitryggig hackspett
CITES Status Not listed
CMS Status Not listed



Photo Copyright by
Nordens Ark



Range Europe: Albania, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Macedonia former Yug. Rep., Moldova, Montenegro, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russian Federation, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, vagrant in Belgium and Netherlands. Asia: China, Japan, Kazakhstan, Korea DPR, Korea Rep., Mongolia, Taiwan.
Habitat Boreal, temperate and subtropical forests.
Wild population No global data available. The European breeding population is estimated 180,000-550,000 breeding pairs, equating to 540000-1650000 individuals (2004). Europe forms 25-49% of the global range (Red List IUCN 2011)
Zoo population 32 reported to ISIS (species listed as Picoides leucotos) all at Nordens Ark, Sweden.

In the Zoo

White-backed woodpecker


How this animal should be transported

For air transport, Container Note 11F of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.


Find this animal on ZooLex


Photo Copyright by
Nordens Ark

Why do zoos keep this animal

The white-backed woodpecker could be dispayed for educational reasons as an example of the woodpecker family. This is however rarely the case. At Nordens Ark the species is kept to provide ex situ-bred birds for a reintroduction project.