The Great Spotted Woodpecker

Drumming and behaviour


Today I heard the beautiful drumming of a Great Spotted Woodpecker in Horsenden Woods.

What I didn't say in the video was:

  • They don't have a song to advertise ownership of their chosen patch of woodland so drumming is their way of making their presence known

  • Drumming is done by both sexes heard in early January continuing until June

  • A solo male can drum more than 600 times a day versus a paired male who drums just 200 times

- Similar size to blackbird - White plumage and a red patch on the lower belly

- Male has red feathers on back of head

- Has a distinctive spring 'drumming' display

- Drumming is a form of communication used to mark territories and to display

- They nests in holes in trees that they excavate in broadleaved woodlands

Photos taken earlier this year showing holes made by Great Spotted Woodpecker


- They have a round head, long tongue, stiff tail and two toes facing forwards and two back to give a better grip on rounded branches.


- The nest hole is excavated by both sexes, and may be used in subsequent seasons

- Individual parents look after their brood once they have left the nest, feeding chicks for the first 10 days

- Insects are the staple diet, but tree seeds are also eaten in the winter as well as bird eggs and fledglings in the spring


They are one of 3 woodpecker found in the UK which. The other 2 are the lesser spotted and green woodpecker.

Great Spotted Woodpecker - photo credit, unsplash.com

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