About blackbird-sized and striking black-and-white. It has a very distinctive bouncing flight and spends most of its time clinging to tree trunks and branches, often trying to hide on the side away from the observer. Its presence is often announced by its loud call or by its distinctive spring 'drumming' display. The male has a distinctive red patch on the back of the head and young birds have a red crown.
What they eat:
Insects, seeds and nuts.
- UK breeding:
- 140,000 pairs
This bird species has different identifying features depending on sex/age/season.
Great spotted woodpecker (adult)
Great spotted woodpecker (juvenile)
Only two species of black and white woodpeckers occur in the UK - the great spotted and lesser spotted. In spring and summer, we often receive messages from people who are sure they have a middle spotted woodpecker in their garden.
This confusion arises when young great spotted woodpeckers leave the nest. Like a middle spotted woodpecker, they have a red top to their head and similar black and white markings on the body. Though middle spotted woodpeckers are just across the Channel in northern France, because they are not migratory, they have never made it to this country.