The Black-backed Woodpecker (Picoides arcticus) and the Three-toed Woodpecker are the most northerly of the family. Both are rather tame. The Black-backed, found only in North America, is the more southerly of the two. It is also somewhat numerous, but these birds are not generally common.
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The Black-backed Woodpecker's diet consists mostly of insects. It feeds mainly on larvae of wood-boring beetles; it also eats other insects, spiders, some fruits and the bark of dead trees, searching for insects. It rarely catches insects in flight.
This species prefers boreal forests of firs and spruces, areas of dead or dying conifers, and may concentrate at burned or flooded areas with many standing dead trees. It can be found in undamaged forests of pine, Douglas-fir, hemlock, tamarack, and spruce, especially spruce bogs. Black-backed woodpeckers also frequent lowlands in north and mountains in West. Its range covers Alaska and Canada to the northernmost United States and to the mountains of California in the West.
The Black-backed Woodpecker population seems more or less stable.