Reddish Vale Country Park
This species is smaller than the green woodpecker but much larger than the lesser spotted woodpecker.
They have pied plumage, with white shoulder patches standing out against a black back. There are red patches under the tail and on the vent, and they have a black crown and a black moustache which joins at the crown. The male has a small red patch on the nape of the neck, and juveniles have a red crown, and pinkish underparts.
Great spotted woodpeckers have a varied diet changing with the seasons. During spring and summer they feed mainly on insects, especially ants and the larvae of wood boring insects and may also take eggs and chicks of hole nesting birds. In autumn and winter they switch to a variety of fruits, seeds and nuts.
Unwieldy nuts and pinecones are placed in clefts of branches and hammered open with the bill. Particular trees are selected and the remains of food may be found below these anvil trees. Some anvil trees may be used for years.
Great spotted woodpeckers use trees as sounding boards and the hammering can be heard up to a distance of half a mile. Both sexes drum, commencing in January and continuing until late June. Usually a new nest is bored each spring. Both parents take part in making the hole which can take two to three weeks to complete. When the same tree is used in consecutive years the new hole is usually below that of the previous year.
They lay between four and seven creamy white eggs and are laid during the second half of May and are incubated for 10-13 days by both parents. The chicks fledge after 20-24 days and mature after a year.
Lifespan, 10 years,
Diet, insects, seeds
Estimated UK breeding
Great Spotted Woodpecker