Another list of interesting facts about Great Spotted Woodpeckers
1. Inexperienced young woodpeckers frequently crash into windows: this is a major cause of death of juvenile birds.
2. Both sexes incubate the clutch of white eggs that take about 12 days to hatch.
parents will look after members of the brood once they have left the
nest, feeding them for the first 10 days, by which time they will start
to be increasingly independent.
4. The nest hole is invariably excavated by both sexes, and may be used again in subsequent seasons.
5. Drumming has been recorded on many objects other than trees, ranging from weather vanes to metal poles.
6. An unpaired male may drum as many as 600 times a day; a paired male just 200 times.
7. Woodpeckers have shock-absorbent tissue between the base of the bill and the skull to cushion the impact of drumming.
is used by both sexes to make contact: the first drums are usually
heard in early January, and they will continue until June.
the last 20 years these woodpeckers have become increasingly regular
visitors to bird-feeding stations, where peanuts and suet are their
recent sharp fall in numbers of lesser spotted woodpeckers may also be
attributable to competition and predation from their larger cousins.
11. Though insects are the staple diet, tree seeds supplement this in the winter, and birds’ eggs and fledglings in the spring.
and willow tit nests are particularly vulnerable to attack, so the
increase in great spot numbers may explain the decline of these two
have increased strongly in Britain in the last 30 years. This may have
been initiated by Dutch elm disease providing an abundance of feeding
14. No woodpeckers breed in Ireland, but the great spotted is a rare and irregular visitor.
was a marked range expansion in Britain during the last century,
following a sudden and unexplained contraction 200 years ago.
16. It's easy to tell the sexes apart, as only the male has the patch of scarlet on the back of the neck.
17. Young birds can be easily recognised by their scarlet caps. They lose this as soon as they moult into adult plumage.
great spots from northern Europe occasionally reach Britain in the
autumn. They are bigger than our birds and have conspicuously white
success is attributable to its adaptability, for it occurs in both
deciduous and coniferous woodland, and breeds from sea level to 9,000ft.
great is the most numerous and widely distributed woodpecker in Europe,
and can be found from southern Spain to northern Scandinavia.
two species of spotted woodpeckers can be found in the British Isles:
the great (not greater) and lesser. On the Continent three similar
species can also be found: middle spotted, white-backed and Syrian.
Kathy and Dave
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