Great spotted woodpecker

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Great spotted woodpecker
Adult male Dendrocopos major pinetorum
Drumming recorded in Devon, England
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Piciformes
Family: Picidae
Genus: Dendrocopos
D. major
Binomial name
Dendrocopos major

Picus major Linnaeus, 1758

The great spotted woodpecker (Dendrocopos major) is a medium-sized woodpecker with black and white plumage and a red patch on the lower belly. Males and young birds also have red markings on the neck or head.

This species is found across Eurasia and parts of North Africa. It is usually resident, but in the north some migrate if the conifer cone crop fails.

Some individuals have recolonised Ireland and some have got to North America. Great spotted woodpeckers chisel into trees to find food or excavate nest holes, and also drum for contact and territorial advertisement. They have anatomical adaptations to manage the physical stresses from the hammering.

The bird occurs in all types of woodlands and eats a wide range of food. It gets seeds out of pine cones, insect larvae from inside trees, and chicks of other birds from their nests. It breeds in holes excavated in living or dead trees, unlined apart from wood chips. When the young fledge they are fed by the adults for about ten days.

References[change | change source]

  1. BirdLife International (2012). "Dendrocopos major". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
A juvenile male is foraging on a pine tree in Ystad.