Great Spotted Woodpecker: a description of where interesting facts live

Great Spotted Woodpecker is a beautiful, noisy and very useful bird. It can be seen, more precisely, to hear in the parks, in the garden plots, in the forest belts. The motley bird leaping along the trunk and pecking it with its beak is the woodpecker, often called the forest health officer. How does he live? What eats in the winter when there are no insects? How to make a pair? We offer you the most interesting facts about the great variegated woodpecker. Perhaps some of them will surprise you.

General information

Each species of bird is distinguished by a unique feature. The bald eagle has huge nests, the hummingbird has tiny sizes, the peacock has a gorgeous tail, and the great spotted woodpecker has a lot of trees. Fans of forest walks from early morning until sunset can hear its characteristic “tuk-tuk”. Woodpecker strikes on the trunk resemble drumming.Each time it lasts only 0.6 seconds, during which the bird has time to make up to 13 (according to other data up to 23) blows. If you hear just such sounds, it means that the great variegated woodpeckers began a period of mating. When a bird reaches under the bark of a beetle, the sounds can be completely different.

Woodpeckers are known to people for many centuries. They are even mentioned in myths and legends. So, it was this bird that helped the wolf to feed Rem and Romulus, who became the founders of Rome.

In Europe, during the Neolithic period, there was a cult of woodpecker. In the third century BC, the forest “drummers” were highly revered by the Sabines. One of their genera bore the name of a woodpecker. Therefore, the bird was worshiped and never hurt her.

the behavior of woodpeckers


Great spotted woodpecker can be found on vast areas of Eurasia - from Scandinavia and the Iberian Peninsula in the west, to the Kuril Islands and Japan in the east, from Laos in the south to Western Siberia in the north (67 ° N. W). This species of woodpeckers lives in Great Britain, on the Kola Peninsula, in Iran, in Corsica, in Sicily and Sardinia, in China and Mongolia, in Ukraine and other European countries. In Russia, the great spotted woodpecker is found on all European territory, including the Moscow region. It dwells in Kamchatka, Kuriles, Sakhalin, in Transcaucasia, Crimea, the Arctic and the Urals.

Woodpeckers of this species live even in Africa - in the northern regions of Algeria and Tunisia (up to the foothills of the Great Atlas), on the Canary Islands, in Morocco.

These birds settle everywhere where deciduous or coniferous trees grow. If there is a choice, woodpeckers prefer pine, but can live among olives, poplars, rhododendrons, oaks, aspens, birches. Only dark marshy spruce forests they do not like. In such forests there is no great spotted woodpecker.

This species is more loyal to the person than others, therefore it can settle in parks and in private plots.

Description of the Great Spotted Woodpecker

The red “cap” makes this bird recognizable and recognizable. You are mistaken if you think that all variegated woodpeckers "wear" it. This “headdress” of small delicate feathers with barely noticeable black strokes is inherent only to young individuals of both sexes. In adult birds, in the process of annual molts, black feathers are replaced by red ones. The males on the back of the head is only a red strip. According to her, they can be distinguished from females. Both sexes have a bright red undertail. All the rest of the body of large variegated woodpeckers is decorated with inks and white feathers.They have black with blue tint back, nadhvoste, tail and top of the head. The same color wing feathers on the wings. A black stripe, like a mustache, stretches from a beak of a woodpecker to a neck.

description of a large variegated woodpecker

White or brownish-white in a variegated woodpecker cheeks, forehead, belly, shoulders and extreme tail feathers. There are also white spots on the feathers.

This bird is small in size but not the smallest. It weighs up to 100 grams. The length of the body is from 22 to 27 cm, the wingspan is up to 47. For comparison, we note that the small spotted woodpecker weighs up to 26 grams, its body size can be from 14 to 16 cm, and the wingspan is up to 30. Not specialists are easily confused birds of these two species, taking the small woodpecker for a young individual.

The paws of the great spotted woodpecker are dark brown. The beak is black with a lead shimmer, very powerful, chisel-shaped. The iris of most woodpeckers has a brown color, but sometimes it is red.

Similar species

In our forests you can find the Syrian woodpecker, which is very similar to the big motley. In size it is slightly smaller. So, its weight is up to 80 grams, and the length of the body is up to 23 cm. At first glance, it is impossible to distinguish birds by this attribute. Understand what a woodpecker in front of you, you can on the "antenna", stretching from the beak. In Syrian, they are absent or interrupted on the cheeks.Also, representatives of this species have white spots on their shoulders that have a more drop-like shape.

One more species of woodpeckers lives in the Russian forests, which is very similar to the big motley one. This representative is white-backed. It is slightly larger. Its weight can reach up to 140 grams, and body length - up to 31 cm. But the main differences lie in the colors. White-backed underhall is pink, the back is white, and there are no white spots on the shoulders.

Behavior features

If the characteristic of a large motley woodpecker to give in a few words, they will be like this: an individualist, bright, noticeable, very noisy. Ornithologists know that this particular species is the most flashy. The bird is able to resent, rejoice, protect its territory, show off its hollow, persuade the female to mate. All this is accompanied by cries of different pitch and frequency. Great motley woodpeckers express emotions at the slightest provocation. If he is not busy crushing the cones, then he screams just like that. In their "vocabulary" ornithologists distinguish "kick", "cr-cr", "ki-ki" and other sounds that can not be written in human letters. Agree, it is difficult not to pay attention to such a vociferous screamer.

habitat of great motley woodpeckers

It is good that the great motley woodpeckers love solitude. Imagine what the din would be like if they were going to flocks! However, they prefer to have an individual territory, the entrance to which for strangers is closed. Otherwise, the owner immediately begins to demonstrate threats. He sits down in front of the uninvited guest, ruffles feathers on his head, opens his beak and starts screaming (he probably suggests that the stranger leave). Further, the owner of the site begins to knock on the trunk and fly over the alien. If this does not work, go with wings and beak.

The area of ​​ownership of each variegated woodpecker varies from 2 to 25 hectares, which depends on the density of forest plantations and the amount of feed.

Even jointly feeding the chicks, the male and the female of the great variegated woodpecker produce forage for them at different ends of the plot.

You can see the accumulation of these woodpeckers only during the invasion period (birds gather in large flocks and wander in search of new territories).


What eats the great spotted woodpecker? You are mistaken if you think that only beetles. Insects form the basis of its diet only in a season, that is, from mid-spring to mid-autumn.During this time, woodpeckers destroy bark beetles, leaf wrenches, ladybirds, barbel, ground beetles, ants, crested birds and dozens of other insect species. Ornithologists found up to 500 different individuals in the stomachs of birds. With a beak, woodpeckers make a hole in the trunk, and with a long thin tongue pull out a beetle or its larva from it.

Occasionally, woodpeckers peck snails, they can eat small crustaceans. They do not refuse from fruits, berries, nuts.

Woodpeckers are not birds of prey, but if the occasion arises, do not disdain to ravage the nests of smaller birds (tits, robins, finches, flycatchers), eating eggs and even chicks.

In the spring, woodpeckers ruin anthills, peck up insects, crawling not only on trees, but also on the ground.

In winter, they switch to the seeds of cones, nuts, acorns. The method of obtaining this food is also very interesting. Woodpeckers find or construct special anvils themselves, which are a crevice in the trunk or accrete branches. They insert a cone into the gap, and then begin to break it with their beak. Each woodpecker makes for itself several such anvils. Ornithologists numbered them up to 56 pieces in one area, and under the tree of the “dining room” sometimes up to 7 thousand pieces of united cones were gathered.

woodpecker's diet in winter

There is even carrion in the menu of great spotted woodpeckers, which they also do not shun. It is this species that can settle near a person’s dwelling, where they often feed at landfills, eating food waste.


Great spotted woodpeckers are usually monogamous. Birds become sexually mature by the end of the first year of their life. Their marriage games last almost two months - from mid-March to mid-May. However, the males begin to experience sexual arousal in January. This is manifested by their aggressive screams and drumming. For the period of breeding, the male and female combine their individual plots. After the end of the process of raising chicks, the spouses fly apart, but in spring they can converge again.

Caring for a bride is manifested not only by shouts, but also by fluttering with a fluffed tail around her. Also, males can demonstrate to the female a hollowed hollow. Often the bride and groom playfully pursue each other. In this action, the lady always prevails.

The courtship mating ends.

woodpecker hollow

The finished nest can be used many times, but more often birds build a new one.In the area where the Great Spotted Woodpecker lives, you can find up to a dozen nests started, but abandoned. It seems that the knots in the trunk prevent the birds from completing their work. Where to build a house, always choose a gentleman. Usually it is a tree trunk, but woodpeckers' houses were found in wooden telegraph poles. The wood of a suitable tree should be soft, but not rotten and not rotten. Most woodpeckers like aspen. A pine, a birch, a larch, a linden can attract them. More often they build hollows at a height of about 8 meters, but ornithologists found their homes at a height of 26 meters and only 30 centimeters. The diameter of the hollow is about 12 cm, and the depth of the nest is up to 35. The house with a visor, which is a tinder fungus, is an ideal option for a woodpecker.


Having completed the creation of the dwelling, the female lays white shiny eggs in an amount of from 4 to 8 pieces. Their maximum dimensions are 24x30 mm. Hatching lasts only 10-12 days. All this time, the male actively helps his “spouse”, often replaces her, and at night he remains in the hollow himself. Chicks are born blind, big-headed, almost hairless, completely helpless. The first days they are very quiet.Parents bring them food every 2-3 minutes. With such a strong diet kids grow up quickly. The very next day they open their eyes, and after a few days, the first feathers begin to replace the light fluff on their bodies.

Already on the 10th day the chicks make their way to the entrance (exit from the hollow). There they are waiting for parents who bring food. In the hollow, children of the great motley woodpecker spend 20-23 days, after which they try their strength in flight and begin to learn how to feed on their own. At this stage, the family is divided. One part of the babies follows the father, and the other one follows the mother. They stay near the nest for another 2-3 weeks. All this time, their parents feed them. Then each young woodpecker begins to take care of itself.

rearing chicks

Enemies and parasites

Great spotted woodpeckers, posing a threat to some small birds, themselves suffer from predatory birds. They are attacked by goshawks, sparrows, sometimes even peregrine falcons, in case the bird finds itself in an open area. It is even harder to chicks who still do not know how to fly. Dwellings of woodpeckers often ruin squirrels, ermines, martens, and red-haired women (a kind of bat).An ordinary starling who can expel woodpeckers from a prepared dwelling can become a contender for a hollow.

Not only large, but also small living creatures annoy woodpeckers. In their hollows ornithologists find wood lice, lice, ticks, fleas.

Traits of fitness of the great spotted woodpecker

These amazing birds in the process of evolution formed characteristic features that allowed them to occupy their natural niche. To easily climb up the trunk, they have sharp claws. Their paws are arranged so that from four fingers two are directed forward, and two - back. This allows the feathered very quickly and deftly move through the trees. They never turn upside down.

care for grown offspring

Woodpeckers' hard tail is also adapted for a comfortable and reliable position on a vertical trunk. When the birds sit on it, the tail serves as their support.

Woodpeckers have phenomenal hearing, which allows them to catch the slightest sound of larvae or beetles feeding in the trunk.

Their thin language deserves much attention. In spotted woodpeckers, its length is about 40 mm. At the end of the language is pointed. The bird pushes it into the hole and forcefully pierces the larva with it, like a harpoon. In addition, the language has special glands that secrete adhesive substance.

But the greatest interest is the ability of woodpeckers to peck with a beak on a tree without the slightest damage to the head. Scientists have calculated that the stress experienced by the bird’s head at the moment of a blow to the trunk with its beak is about 250 times higher than that which occurs when a rocket is launched. The woodpecker calmly withstands such loads, because anatomically its beak is separated from the skull by a special cushioning cushion. It is a spongy fabric, thanks to which the bird feels great, making holes in the trunks all day and drawing out forest pests from there.

Related news

Great Spotted Woodpecker: a description of where interesting facts live image, picture, imagery

Great Spotted Woodpecker: a description of where interesting facts live 11

Great Spotted Woodpecker: a description of where interesting facts live 80

Great Spotted Woodpecker: a description of where interesting facts live 97

Great Spotted Woodpecker: a description of where interesting facts live 71

Great Spotted Woodpecker: a description of where interesting facts live 75

Great Spotted Woodpecker: a description of where interesting facts live 72