© Copyright: Images: Jari Peltomäki, Jouko Lehmuskallio, M. & W. von Wright (Kansalliskirjasto, The National Library of Finland). Recording: Jan-Erik Bruun. All rights reserved.

Black Woodpecker

Dryocopus martius

  • Family: Woodpeckers – Picidae
  • Appearance: Almost totally black, crow-sized woodpecker. Males have bright red crown, females only have red markings on rear part of crown.
  • Size: Length 40–46 cm, wingspan 67–73 cm, weight 285–385 g.
  • Nest: In a hole in a sturdy tree (aspen, pine) at a height of 5–9 metres. Black woodpeckers make their own holes.
  • Breeding: 3–6 eggs laid in April, incubated by both parents for 12–14 days. Young able to fly within 24–28 days.
  • Distribution: Breeds almost throughout Finland as far north as northernmost coniferous forests. Finnish population estimated at 30,000–50,000 pairs. Has been increasing in numbers lately.
  • Migration: Sedentary but may range over longer distances occasionally.
  • Diet: Invertebrates. Particularly prefers carpenter ants, which it digs out of tree stumps and the lower parts of trunks of living trees.
  • Calls: Piercing flight call “kree kree kree kree…” and a more elongated “klee-yee”. Drumming may be heard over distances of several kilometres during calm weather.

Black Woodpeckers are almost totally black, crow-sized woodpeckers. Males have bright red crowns, and females have smaller red patches at the rear of the crown. Both sexes have grey legs. Mature birds’ beaks are pale with black tips, but juveniles’ beaks are yellowish with white tips. Black woodpeckers’ irises are yellowish white (adults) or bluish grey (juveniles).

Black Woodpeckers are alert but inquisitive, and sometimes very noisy. They may sometimes make large holes high on the walls of old wooden barns.

Other species from the same family

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