Monday, 10 September 2007

Three-toed Woodpecker: alpinus race ID

The alpinus race of Three-toed Woodpecker occurs in southern Europe. It is overall darker than the nominate race tridactylus than occurs in northern Europe, particularly showing less white on the mantle, back. It also has narrower white head stripes than tridactylus. Alpinus is also on average larger and heavier and with a longer bill. Another visible difference concerns the back pattern. Most alpinus have a boldly barred central white mantle panel, inner scapulars and back, though the extent of this barring varies, on some birds these bars are finer dark vermiculations. The rump is black, dotted with white. In terms of back pattern, many adult alpinus are rather like juvenile tridactylus. Moreover the flanks, vent, sides of the breast, chest and belly are less clean and more heavily and closely barred. Usually, only a narrow stripe from the central chest to the lower belly is uniform white. The under-wing coverts and axillaries are more barred than tridactylus and the dark barring on the outer tail feathers is also heavier and bolder than on the nominate. The photo here shows an adult male alpinus from the Harghita Mountains, Eastern Carpathians, Romania, taken on 8.04.2005 (László Szabó-Szeley). Note the white back patch is marked and barred with black. The yellow crown (making this a male) is just visible.

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