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Great Spotted Woodpecker

Great-Spotted Woodpecker, Identification, Habitat and Food


20th August 2013

Great Spotted Woodpecker, Identification, Habitat and Food


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.


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.


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

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

Ground – Not suitable