Home PageBirds of Devon and Cornwall Great Spotted Woodpecker  

Latin Name - Dendrocopos major

Larger and more common than the other British pied woodpecker, the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker. It is blackbird-sized and black with a large white shoulder patch and scarlet underneath the tail. The male has a red patch on the back of the head which is absent in the female and juveniles have a red crown, pink vent and "blotchy" white shoulder patches. They eat insects, seeds and nuts but will also take bird eggs and nestlings from nests during the breeding season. The woodpecker's tongue is extremely long and sticky for extracting insects, such as ants, from their nest chambers and crevices. It has a very distinctive bouncing flight as they completely fold their wings against the body between each series of several flaps. They spend most of their time clinging to tree trunks and branches using their stiff tail feathers as a prop and its specialised toes with two pointing forwards and two pointing backwards. Its presence is easily detected by its loud alarm call. The male Great Spotted Woodpecker is also renowned for drumming its bill on a branch, which usually last only a few seconds and comprises 8-12 beats and fades away at the end. Usually found in woodlands with mature broad-leaved trees, they can also be seen in parks and gardens and will visit peanut feeders and bird tables.

Great Spotted Woodpecker Great Spotted Woodpecker Great Spotted Woodpecker Great Spotted Woodpecker