Join for FREE
It only takes a minute!
Magnifying the passion for nature. Zeiss Victory Harpia 95. New!

Welcome to BirdForum.
BirdForum is the net's largest birding community, dedicated to wild birds and birding, and is absolutely FREE! You are most welcome to register for an account, which allows you to take part in lively discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.

Personal tools
Opticron - Imagic BGA VHD 8x42 – 2018 BBR Award Winner
Main Categories

Great Spotted Woodpecker

From Opus

D. m. major, malePhoto by Digiscoper321western Sweden, February 2014
D. m. major, male
Photo by Digiscoper321
western Sweden, February 2014
Dendrocopos major

Picoides major


[edit] Identification

D. m. major, female and juvenile at nestPhoto by PatrickEDalarna, Sweden, June 2013
D. m. major, female and juvenile at nest
Photo by PatrickE
Dalarna, Sweden, June 2013

Length 23-26 cm (9-10ΒΌ in), wingspan 38-44 cm, weight

  • Glossy black upper parts
  • White on the sides of face and neck
  • Large white shoulder patch
  • Barred black and white flight feathers
  • Three outer tail feathers barred
  • Buffish white under parts
  • Crimson lower abdomen and undertail coverts
  • Slate black bill
  • Grey legs
  • Male has a crimson spot on nape, which is missing on the female
  • Immatures also have no nape spot, but the crown is crimson

[edit] Similar Species

Very similar to the Syrian Woodpecker of southeastern Europe and southwestern Asia, differing most obviously in the moustachial stripe extending back across the lower cheek to the rear of the crown. Juveniles with a red forecrown can be confused with Middle Spotted Woodpecker, but have a stouter bill and stronger moustachial stripe.

[edit] Distribution

D. m. pinetorum, malePhoto by Clive WatsonSurrey, England
D. m. pinetorum, male
Photo by Clive Watson
Surrey, England

Resident throughout range but may be irruptive in the north. One of the most widespread and abundant of the spotted woodpeckers, it breeds from eastern Ireland (where a recent colonist), throughout Britain, most of Scandinavia except the far north and the highest mountains, throughout Europe from Iberia (although scarce in southern Spain) to northern Greece, and east to Kamchatka, Sakhalin, Japan, Korea and China.

Also breeds on the Canary Islands, Corsica, Sardinia and Sicily and isolated populations in the Caucasus and in parts of southern Greece and northern Turkey, in Morocco and northern parts of Algeria and Tunisia. Further east the southern limits of range are reached in north-east India, Vietnam and Hainan.

Vagrants have been recorded in Iceland and the Faroes.

[edit] Taxonomy

About 14 subspecies are recognised, differing slightly in overall size, bill size and colour of underparts. However there is much intergradation in mainland races and also variation within races.

[edit] Subspecies

There are 14 subspecies[1]:

  • D. m. major:
  • D. m. pinetorum:
  • D. m. harterti:
  • D. m. hispanus:
  • D. m. canariensis:
  • D. m. thanneri:
  • D. m. mauritanus:
  • D. m. numidus:
  • D. m. poelzami:
  • Transcaucasia and southern Caspian region
  • D. m. brevirostris:
  • D. m. kamtschaticus:
  • Kamchatka Peninsula and northern coast of Sea of Okhotsk
  • D. m. japonicus:
  • Eastern Manchuria, Sakhalin, Kuril Islands, Korea and northern Japan
  • D. m. cabanisi:
  • D. m. stresemanni:

Typically the northern subspecies are larger, with shorter, stouter bills, and whiter underparts.
The north African subspecies, D. m. mauritanus and D. m. numidus are cream below with a bold chest band, black at the sides and red in the centre, and more extensive red on the undertail coverts and belly.
The Canary Islands subspecies, D. m. canariensis from Tenerife is creamy-buff below, and D. m. thanneri from Gran Canaria is more greyish.

[edit] Habitat

Deciduous, coniferous or mixed woodland and forest, parks and orchards, sometimes in large gardens.

[edit] Behaviour

[edit] Diet

Although the diet usually consists of insects and their larvae, woodpeckers are not averse to preying on young birds in the nest and will smash their way into nest boxes to do this. In areas where woodpeckers are known to be active, a protective sheet of metal may be fitted to the entrance of the box.

Conifer seeds form an important part of the winter diet, particularly in Northern Europe. Cones may be taken to an 'anvil' to assist in the removal of seeds. The 'anvils' may be a hard surface, on which the cone is balanced, or a crevice, either natural, or one which they have prepared themselves, by cutting back the bark to create a crack.

[edit] Vocalisation

The call is a loud 'tchk'. The drumming sound is made by the male, using a dead dry tree that generates a good volume, to attract a female. The sound can travel over hundreds of metres in favourable conditions. Feeding uses a much less rapid pecking action and the quieter sound generated can only be heard at close quarters.

[edit] Gallery

[edit] References

  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2017. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2017, with updates to August 2017. Downloaded from
  2. Woodpeckers of Europe: A Study of the European Picidae. Gerard Gorman. ISBN 1-872842-05-4
  3. BWPi

[edit] External Links


Opticron - Imagic BGA VHD 8x42 – 2018 BBR Award Winner

Fatbirder's Top 1000 Birding Websites

Help support BirdForum

Page generated in 0.34734607 seconds with 6 queries
All times are GMT. The time now is 06:56.