Blogger: Adam Murray, Communications Officer

...a lesser and great spotted woodpecker? Good question – some detective work required.

I come from a primate background (study related and family heritage) and I was taught that the lesser apes are the smaller ones i.e. the gibbons, like the one you get in the Harapan rainforest in Sumatra. The great apes are the bigger ones such as gorillas, orang-utans, chimps, humans and bonobos. This does not mean that from a PR point of view the great apes are GREAT and lesser apes are just a bit average. Same goes for the British woodpeckers as it goes.  I was guessing that the lesser spotted woodpecker is the smaller of the two. Looking up in our trusty RSPB Handbook of British Birds and web pagesI was blown away by finding out that the lesser ones are as tiny as a house sparrow. So very much lesser that greater! The only other give away between the two species is that if you see one with a full red swish across their head then it is a male lesser spotted or then again it could be a juvenile great spotted. SO to be honest that is not much help is it.

When in doubt, size matters! Size of a sparrow – lesser spotted, size of a blackbird – great spotted. Job done.

Any other queries that have been bugging you on how to ID wildlife stuff then give me a challenge and I will see if I can have a go. Post your suggestions below in Comments or on Twitter using #ChallengeAdam

Ta ta for now.

Drawings by Mike Langman.

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