Inconspicuous and uncommon woodpecker of coniferous forests, particularly spruces, often at high elevations (especially in the Rockies). Prefers recently burned areas or bogs with many dead trees. Distinctive habit of flaking bark off trees in search of grubs; behavior shared only by Black-backed Woodpecker. Generally dark with barred flanks and subtle white spots on wings and back. Face is black with white stripes above and below the eye and white speckles on the forehead. Eastern birds darker than western birds. Males show yellow patch on crown; sexes otherwise alike. Most similar to Black-backed Woodpecker but American Three-toed always shows some white on back and more white on head. Listen for soft, hollow "pweek" call and slow drumming that fades at the end.