Great spotted woodpecker Facts

Great spotted woodpecker

The great spotted woodpecker, or spotted woodpecker (lat. Dendrosoros major) is a rather large bird, which seems to be the most representative representatives of the Woodpecker family and the genus Spotted woodpeckers from the order Woodpeckers.

Scientific classificationedit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Piciformes
Family: Picidae
Genus: Dendrocopos
Species: D. major

Description of woodpeckers

The woodpecker family includes a large group of birds known for their ability to peck trees with their beaks. Close relatives of woodpeckers are also toucans. An adult great spotted woodpecker is 20–24 cm (7.9–9.4 in) long, weighs 70–98 g (2.5–3.5 oz) and has a 34–39 cm (13–15 in) wingspan.

  • Interesting fact. The great spotted woodpecker is able to knock on the hollow with an amazing speed – 20 beats per second.

The body of the woodpecker seems to be somewhat elongated, thanks to the average length of the tail and the head, continuing the length of the body. The woodpecker’s beak is chisel-shaped, it is also sharp and durable. The nostrils of woodpeckers are protected by special villi that prevent wood shavings from getting inside during chiselling. As well as the skull of woodpeckers, it has a special porous structure that protects the brain of birds from concussion. The wings of a woodpecker are of medium length and, moreover, sharp, such a structure of their wings helps these forest birds to easily maneuver between trees. The paws of woodpeckers are short and four-fingered, two fingers are directed forward and two back, a similar structure of the paws of woodpeckers helps them to confidently stay on the vertical surfaces of trees and move along them. The plumage of woodpeckers is rigid and fits snugly to the body.

Spotted woodpecker

Woodpecker habitat facts

Spotted woodpeckers are found in Africa, Europe, the southern part of the Balkans and in Asia Minor, as well as on the islands of the Mediterranean and Scandinavia. A large population lives on Sakhalin, the southern Kuril and Japanese islands. Large spotted woodpeckers are extremely flexible species, so they can easily adapt to any type of forest, including small wooded islands, gardens and parks.

  • It is interesting fact! As long-term observations show, young birds are the most prone to movement, and old woodpeckers rarely leave their settled nesting areas.

Lifestyle and behavior of the great spotted woodpecker

Great spotted woodpeckers are conspicuous and quite noisy birds, often inhabiting areas near human habitation. Most often, such birds lead a solitary lifestyle, and the mass accumulation of woodpeckers is typical for the invasion of the nominative subspecies. Sedentary adults have an individual feeding area.

  • It is interesting fact! Before entering into a fight with a stranger in its own feeding area, the owner takes the so-called confrontation posture, in which the bird’s beak opens slightly, and the plumage on the head acquires a disheveled appearance.

The means of communication for woodpeckers is a drum roll beaten out by their beaks, it (the shot) also serves to mark the boundaries of the territory of a particular woodpecker and to attract a partner during the mating season.


Great Spotted Woodpecker Lifespan

According to official data and observations, the average life expectancy of great spotted woodpeckers in the wild does not exceed ten years. The maximum known lifespan for a woodpecker was twelve years and eight months.

Diet of Great Spotted Woodpeckers

The food base of the spotted woodpecker is very diverse, and the bias towards the predominance of food of plant or animal origin directly depends on the season.

Males and females feed on different types of territories. In the spring-summer period, various insects, as well as their larvae, are eaten by motley woodpeckers in very large numbers.

  • Interesting fact. A woodpecker is capable of eating 1,000 ants at one meal.

When insects are found, the bird destroys the bark with strong blows of the beak or easily makes a deep funnel, after which the prey is removed with a long tongue. Representatives of the Dyatlov family hollow, as a rule, only the wood of diseased and dried trees affected by pests. In spring, birds feed on terrestrial insects, destroying anthills, and also use fallen fruits for food.

This is an interesting fact! In early spring, when the number of insects is extremely limited, and edible seeds have completely run out, woodpeckers make their way through the bark of deciduous trees and drink tree sap.

Natural enemies

The woodpeckers themselves, in turn, can become prey for some other birds of prey: hawks, falcons and owls. Their enemies in natural conditions are also snakes, lynxes, martens and some other predators.

woodpecker on a tree

Reproduction and offspring of spotted woodpeckers

Traditionally, the spotted woodpecker is a monogamous bird, but cases of polyandry are known in Japan. A significant part of the birds begin to breed at the age of one year, and some of the created pairs, even after the breeding season, remain together until the next spring. The timing of nesting between the southern and northern populations does not differ too much. The increase in mating activity persists until mid-March, and pair formation ends in mid-May, so the birds begin building a nest in a hollow.

  • It is interesting fact! At the end of April or in the first decade of May, the female spotted woodpecker lays from four to eight shiny white eggs. Incubation is carried out by the female and male for twelve days, and then blind and naked, completely helpless chicks are born.

Both parents feed the chicks. The nestlings stay in the nest until the age of three weeks, after which flight training takes place, during which part of the brood follows the female, and the other follows the male. Chicks that have learned to fly are fed by their parents for ten days, after which the birds acquire complete independence.