Great spotted woodpecker (or spotted woodpecker) photo and description of the bird, what it eats, interesting facts


The great spotted woodpecker (common woodpecker, spotted woodpecker) is a bit like a thrush in size. The length of the great spotted woodpecker varies from 22 to 27 centimeters, and the weight can range from 60 to 100 grams. This representative is notable for its characteristic color, which is dominated by white and black colors in combination with bright red stripes on the undertail. All subspecies of the great spotted woodpecker are endowed with a variegated color.

On the front of the head, in the area of ​​​​the back and rump, the plumage is predominantly black with a bluish tint. The forehead, belly and shoulders are white with a brownish tinge. The flight feathers on the wings are black with small white spots. Sexual dimorphism consists in the color of the plumage: in males there is a red spot on the back of the head, and in females it is black.

Woodpeckers have distinctive stiff and pointed feathers that enable them to fly well. However, most of them prefer to climb trees.


The territory of distribution of the great spotted woodpecker extends almost throughout the Palearctic. Some populations are found in Europe, Africa and the southern range of the Balkans. These birds are also found on some islands of the Mediterranean and Scandinavia. On the territory of Eurasia, large spotted woodpeckers can be found on Sakhalin.

As a habitat, these representatives prefer to inhabit small islands with rich vegetation, as well as parks and gardens. By themselves, great spotted woodpeckers are easily adapted to any type of biotope. The inhabitants of North Africa were inhabited by cedaries, olive groves and various mixed forests. In Poland, large colorful woodpeckers are met in oak and Olkhov groves and in some parks rich in old trees.


As the main food, large colorful woodpeckers prefer various insects and larvae. These birds take their larvae with their sharp beak, making small holes in the bark of the tree. Throughout the year, they can prefer various berries, seeds and nuts as food. As a rule, in the winter, they choose plant foods, since looking for larvae and other insects during this period is problematic. In order to cope with a dense walnut shell, large variegated woodpeckers form a kind of “anvils” in a cracked bark, where they place nuts or acorns. On the habitat of woodpeckers, more than 50 such are “baked” can be located. Also, these birds can eat seeds and nuts of hazel, hornbeam and almonds.


Most members of the Great Spotted Woodpecker population are monogamous. The period of mating activity lasts until March, and already in mid-May, the couples are fully formed. Then an active search for a hollow for arranging a nest begins. As a rule, large spotted woodpeckers choose hollows at a height of up to 8 meters.  Egg laying begins at the end of April. In the formed nest, the female lays from 4 to 8 white shiny eggs.

The incubation period lasts for 12 days, after which small and helpless chicks are born. Already by the 10th day of life, the cubs begin to climb. The female and male are searching for food for themselves and their offspring.

The nesting period of chicks lasts more than three weeks. Then the big spotted woodpeckers, already strong, begin to learn to fly. Part of the cubs follow the female, and the second part follows the father. Having learned to fly, the chicks are considered ready for independent life.


For the most part, the great spotted woodpecker is considered a sedentary bird, which quite rarely flies to distances exceeding 15 kilometers from the nesting area. The exception is the woodpeckers that inhabited the Siberian and Scandinavian forests. They can roam relatively long distances in search of cones.

Great spotted woodpeckers are considered quite noisy birds. Some individuals can live near human houses. Such birds prefer a lonely life. Settled individuals have a personal territory. If a stranger appears on the territory of a large spotted woodpecker, this can often lead to a fight between birds. Such situations are common during their breeding season.

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