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Tatty Great-Spotted Woodpecker (1 Viewer)

Eos9

Well-known member
I recently observed a very tatty looking Great-Spotted Woodpecker in the garden and initially put it down to it being the nesting period and getting grubby through repeated visits to the nest itself.
However today I was able to grab this photograph which makes me have doubts about this.
I'm not sure if this isn't Oil or something similar ? It isn't localised to just the front or underbelly and generally looks dirty & grimy all over.
I've previously seen Woodpeckers before visiting nesting holes but none looked quite as disheveled as this individual.
The bird itself seems quite alert and doesn't give the impression of being obviously sick and flies quite normally.
Curious to see what others think as I'm hoping the bird will be Ok.
 

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Andy Adcock

Well-known member
Cyprus
Are you sure he hasn't just had a bath both times you've seen him?

He does look oily, certainly got soemthing sticky on his feathers, it won't be fatal, he'll moult it out eventually.
 

Euan Buchan

The Edinburgh Birdwatcher
Supporter
Scotland
I hope he's ok but Andy is right he will lose these feathers and grow brand new ones and he will look much better.
 

dantheman

Bah humbug
I wondered if it's specific nest hole is in a place where water runoff into the hole area means it is picking up soil/dirt/oils from damp or decaying wood (not sure if they use really old dead wood as opposed to making fresh holes in fresh wood).
 

Eos9

Well-known member
Hi Andy, like you I initially put it down to either being very grubby through the nest site itself or as you suggest a muddy bath.
However after viewing him several times over quite a few days it didn’t appear to be looking any different and hence I started to believe it might actually be matted in an oily substance of some description.
The bird otherwise looks healthy enough and as you suggest will be back to his finest when it completes a moult anyway.

Are you sure he hasn't just had a bath both times you've seen him?

He does look oily, certainly got soemthing sticky on his feathers, it won't be fatal, he'll moult it out eventually.
 
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