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Great Spotted Woodpecker

Great-Spotted Woodpecker, Call, Nesting & Facts


18th January 2021


Length: 23cm.

This is the most common black and white woodpecker in Europe. It is larger than the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, with black back and white markings on the shoulders. The under tail coverts are red. Only the males have a black crown with a red marking on the nape. Their under parts are white without streaks. Youngsters of both sexes have red crowns.

The Great Spotted Woodpecker rarely eats on the ground. Both male and female produce powerful, vibrant drumming notes, rather like the sound of wind buffeting tree-tops. During courtship both sexes chase each other round and round branches. Flight is conspicuously bounding.

Great Spotted Woodpecker (1)
Image Credit Liam Filtness

Greater Spotted Woodpecker Male Vs Female

Telling the difference between male and female greater spotted woodpeckers is relatively straightforward since the male has a red patch on the back of its head, while the female head is black and white. Both male and female have a bright red underside at the base of their tails.

Greater Spotted Woodpecker Size

An adult greater spotted woodpecker can measure up to 24cm in length, making it significantly larger than a lesser spotted woodpecker and roughly the same size as a blackbird or a starling.

Great-Spotted Woodpecker Call

A loud, sharp ‘cheek-keek’.


Breeding starts from mid May onwards. They nest in a hole in a tree trunk, like the Green Woodpecker’s. It lays from three to eight white eggs. Incubation takes sixteen days and is carried out mainly by the female, with some assistance from the male. Both parents rear the offspring.Greater spotted woodpecker eggs

Greater Spotted Woodpecker Eggs

Typically, a greater spotted woodpecker will lay between four and six eggs measuring just under 3cm in length, and glossy white in colour. This tends to happen between mid-April and June.

Great-Spotted Woodpecker Nest & Habitat

They live in woods, copses, parks and sometimes in gardens.

Ground – Not suitable

Natural Food

Mainly eats the larvae of wood-eating insects, occasionally will eat young birds and vegetable matter.

Where to Feed

Feeders – Ideally above 1m in height

Table – Open topped or covered