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Great Spotted Woodpecker

dendrocopos major
Great Spotted Woodpecker - Call

About blackbird-sized and with striking colouring, the Great Spotted Woodpecker has a distinctive bouncing flight and spends most of its time clinging to tree trunks and branches, often trying to hide on the side away from the observer. Its presence is announced by its loud call or by its distinctive spring 'drumming' display. Great spotted woodpeckers chisel into trees to find food or excavate nest holes, and also drum for contact and to announce their territory to other birds.

Both sexes have pied black and white plumage and a scarlet patch on the lower belly The male also has scarlet on the back of the head and young birds have a red crown.

It breeds in holes excavated with its beak

Great Spotted Woodpecker - Drumming
great spotted woodpecker

in dead or living trees, unlined apart from wood chips. The typical clutch is four to six glossy, white eggs. 


Both parents incubate the eggs, feed the chicks and keep the nest clean. When the young fledge they are fed by the adults for about ten days, each parent taking responsibility for feeding part of the brood.

Great Spotted Woodpeckers have a wide diet, being capable of extracting seeds from pine cones and insect larvae from tree hollows. Occasionally they will steal eggs or young of small song-birds.  In late spring, adult woodpeckers often bring their offspring to garden bird-feeders. 

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