Join for FREE
It only takes a minute!
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Length 23-26 cm (9-10Â¼ in), wingspan 38-44 cm, weight
 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.
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.
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.
There are 14 subspecies:
Typically the northern subspecies are larger, with shorter, stouter bills, and whiter underparts.
Deciduous, coniferous or mixed woodland and forest, parks and orchards, sometimes in large gardens.
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.
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.
 External Links