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Interesting facts about the Great Spotted Woodpecker

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We found 20 interesting facts about the Great Spotted Woodpecker

Dendrokopos large

This most common woodpecker in Poland inhabits areas throughout the country. It rarely migrates; it is rather a bird attached to its territory. This is not a songbird, but it announces its presence by rumbling against a tree trunk. Both men and women do this.


It belongs to the woodpecker family.

The list of woodpeckers is still being discussed and developed. Currently it includes 236 species in 36 genera. There are about 20 subspecies of the great woodpecker.


The Great Spotted Woodpecker is found in Europe, North Africa, Central and Northern Asia.

It lives in deciduous, coniferous and mixed forests, as well as in areas modified by humans, such as parks, gardens, orchards and plantations.


He is in Poland all year round.

Most birds are sedentary, but some migrate in the fall. During winter, high-altitude populations tend to migrate to lower elevations.


These are medium-sized birds, the body length of adults is from 20 to 24 centimeters.

The wingspan is from 34 to 39 centimeters, and the weight is from 70 to 98 grams.


They are quite contrasting in color - black and white with a red underbelly.

The top of the head, back, wings, tail and rump are black. The underside is white with a characteristic reddish tint. The beak is graphite-black, the legs are greenish-gray, and the eye is bright red. You can distinguish a male from a female by the presence of a red transverse spot located on the back of the neck.


They are omnivores; their diet mainly consists of invertebrates.

Their menu includes beetle larvae, adult beetles, spiders, ants and caterpillars. In autumn and winter, the lack of meat is compensated for by pine and spruce seeds, as well as fruits. In extreme cases, the woodpecker may raid the nests of other birds, eat eggs and chicks, or feed on carrion.


With its tongue it catches insects living under the bark of trees.

The woodpecker has a long and bristly tongue covered with sticky saliva. The bird can extend it beyond its beak by 4 centimeters. This feature is due to the flexible hyoid bone to which the tongue is attached. If necessary, the woodpecker is able to move the flexible horns of the hyoid bone forward, thereby increasing its range of action.


The cones are stored in so-called “forges”.

Horns are places in cracks in the bark or forks in branches. There they store cones, which they then pick, feeding on the seeds hidden in them.


They drink birch sap.

In the spring, woodpeckers pierce the bark of birch trees and drink the sap flowing from the trunk.


The nesting period begins in April and lasts until June.

Courtship begins in December. They produce one brood per year, with eggs laid in the first weeks of May. The female can lay 5 to 7 white eggs measuring 26x19 mm.


Both parents incubate the eggs and feed the chicks.

Incubation lasts about 12 days from the day the last egg is laid. After hatching, the chicks remain in the cavity for at least three weeks. The chicks feed even after leaving the nest.


The Great Spotted Woodpecker reaches sexual maturity at one year of age.

To impress the female, the male displays an impressive flight during which he flaps his wings, spreads his tail and calls to her.


Woodpeckers build their nests in the hollows of large trees.

They most often choose damaged trunks as a potential home, and treat drilling a hole in a healthy tree as a last resort when they have no other choice. It takes two to three weeks to cut the hole. Woodpeckers rarely live in the same hole; usually a new one is created every year. They also love to live in birdhouses.


Pits are dug at a height of 0,3 to 8 meters above ground level.

Sometimes the pit can be located higher, up to 20 meters. Most of the construction work is done by men. The entrance hole has a diameter of 4,5 to 5,5 centimeters and leads into a chamber 25-35 centimeters deep, lined with sawdust and wood chips formed during construction.


Great spotted woodpeckers are very territorial, their territory can reach up to 5 hectares.

They inhabit it all year round, and the male is mainly responsible for protection.


They winter in interspecific herds.

They can then be found in the company of other woodpeckers, tits, nuthatches and rabbits.


During reproduction, the couple remains in a monogamous relationship.

Before the next breeding season, a change of partner often occurs.


Woodpeckers most often become victims of birds of prey.

The greatest threats to these birds are the hawk and sparrowhawk. Due to predation, it is impossible to accurately estimate the survival rate of these birds.


The maximum lifespan of the Great Spotted Woodpecker is about 11 years.


The Great Spotted Woodpecker is a strictly protected species in Poland.

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