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Lesser spotted woodpecker

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Identifcation, Habitat & Food


20th August 2013



Length: 14cm.

The Lesser Spotted Woodpecker is the smallest found in Europe. They are about the size of a hedge sparrow. They have a dirty white or slightly brown forehead. The crown is red in the male and off-white in the female, the young of both sexes have little red on the heads. The under parts of the adults are white with some dark streaks on the flanks. Upper parts are boldly barred to form a ‘ladder back’, in black and white. They tend to spend more time in the canopy of trees than their larger cousins.


Their call is a repeated shrill of ‘kee-kee-kee’.


Breeding starts from early May. They nest in holes in trees, usually soft decayed wood. Sometimes they may bore a hole in a side branch. Both adults bore the hole, which consists of a tunnel about 3cms in diameter which curves down to an elongated chamber.
Four to six eggs are laid (sometimes three to eight). They are thin shelled, glossy white. Both sexes incubate, the male sitting at night, for fourteen days. Both tend the young, which hatch naked, feeding them with insects brought in the bill until they leave the nest after about three weeks.


They like open woods, especially deciduous woods, also parkland and orchards.

Natural Food

Larvae of wood-boring insects and other invertebrates (especially spiders). Will rarely eat fruits.

Where to Feed

Feeders – Ideally above 1m in height
Table – Open topped
Ground –  Scattered around trees