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

Great Spotted Woodpecker

Dendrocopos major

  • Family: Woodpeckers – Picidae
  • Appearance: A black and white woodpecker with a bright red vent. Similar to White-backed Woodpecker, but back black, and underparts lack streaking. Has two broad white shoulder patches. Females have black caps and napes, but males have red patches on their napes, and immature birds have red caps.
  • Size: Length 23–26 cm, wingspan 38–44 cm, weight 70–105 g.
  • Nest: In a hole in a tree, most commonly an Aspen. Birds seldom use the same hole for longer than a single summer.
  • Breeding: 4–7 eggs laid in May, incubated by both parents for 10–12 days. Fledglings learn to fly within 20–25 days.
  • Distribution: the most common woodpecker in Finland. Nests in all kinds of forest habitat. Finnish breeding population estimated at 300,000–700,000 pairs.
  • Migration: Sedentary, but every few years large-scale eruptions occur in late summer and autumn with birds ranging over wider areas.
  • Diet: In winter feeds on seeds from pine and spruce cones, which birds take to suitable “anvil trees” to peck open. At other times of year enjoys a more varied diet, including insects and sometimes the eggs and fledglings of other birds. Also visits bird tables during the winter.
  • Calls: A hard, metallic “kik”. Also drums. Fledglings in the nest keep up constant high-pitched begging calls.

Great Spotted Woodpeckers have striking black, white and red plumage. Their two large white shoulder patches are particularly conspicuous. Their vents are bright red, but their underparts are otherwise pale (though often stained darker with resin). They have a black moustache-like stripe and a connected stripe running down the side of their neck that borders a white patch on their ear coverts at the back of their cheeks. Females have black caps and napes, but males have red colouring on their napes, and immature birds have red caps. Great Spotted Woodpeckers have greenish grey legs, and grey beaks with a paler base. Their irises may be red (adults) or brown (juveniles).

Other species from the same genus
Other species from the same family

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