New Jersey, USA.
Close to L. stricklandi (with L. arizonae) and L. albolarvatus, with which it forms a relatively closely related cluster of taxa that is linked with L. borealis; all were previously placed in Picoides. May have interbred with Dryobates scalaris. Genetic analysis suggests very close relationship also to L. fumigatus, previously placed in genus Veniliornis. Spectacular variation in size, coloration and plumage pattern is largely clinal in nature, associated with temperature and moisture, races intergrading in many areas. Recent phylogenetic study#R found that races formed three main clades (each c. 1.5% divergent from others), one from N & E zones of North America, another from W & SW North America, and third a disjunct population in Costa Rica and Panama; the W & SW clade was further divided into three geographically and genetically isolated groups (Paciﬁc-coast ranges; interior ranges; S Mexico); races in Bahamas not adequately sampled in study (just one individual), but genetic differentiation of piger was small, in contrast to its striking morphological differentiation (moreover, the two Bahama forms exhibit clear morphological differences from each other; further examination needed). Same study#R indicated also that coastal British Columbian forms such as sitkensis (previously considered N forms of harrisi) belong to the E assemblage of taxa, and possibility that neither harrisi nor monticola extends N into Canada; and that extimus, previously lumped with sanctorum, is genetically very distinct from latter. Otherwise, a large number of races described, of which many are unsustainable: e.g. scrippsae (N Baja California), intermedius (mountains of E Mexico), parvulus (N El Salvador to N & W Honduras) and fumeus (highlands of S Honduras and N Nicaragua). Seventeen subspecies currently recognized.
Food and feeding
Status and conservation
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