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Thursday, January 22, 2009


There are six species of European woodpeckers in the genus Dendrocopos. They are all visibly pied, appearing largely black and white, with splashes of red . Two species are found in Great Britain, namely the Great Spotted Woodpecker D. major; and the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, D.minor. The former is now common and is is frequently seen coming to bird feeders in gardens, whilst the latter is rare and declining alarmingly.

Great Spotted Woodpeckers are often seen in gardens coming to peanut feeders
(Click on the image to locate the picture source)

In continental Europe there are also the Syrian D. syriacus; the Middle Spotted D. medius; and the White-backed D. leucotos. I have seen all these on one occasion only, during a Travelling Naturalist trip to Romania.

Being eponymously arboreal in habitat, woodpeckers are often most easily seen during winter when the trees are bare of their leaves. This winter, whilst walking through the woods of Prater in Vienna, I was delighted to find a few Middle Spotted Woodpeckers.

My pictures are not great, but they serve to pinpoint the main identification features.

Middle Spotted Woodpecker, Prater, Vienna
Note the red crown (Great Spotted has black, see above); the black "chin strap" does not extend back to the nape; the lower underparts are a more rosy-pink than the red of the Great Spotted; and the flanks are heavily streaked

A rear view which clearly shows the red crown


Blogger Jenny Holden said...

Hey Maalie. Thought you might be interested to know that we have lesser spotted in Askham! We also have a good colony of Tree Sparrows just down the road :o)

6:36 pm  
Blogger lorenzothellama said...

I had a woodpecker once in the garden, but it didn't come back again. Maybe he didn't like the cat and dog!

Liked the Middle Spotted Woodpecker.

10:04 pm  
Blogger simon said...

great post mate! always a pleasure to learn something new

10:27 pm  
Blogger Charles Gramlich said...

Beautiful. The most beautiful woodpecker we have around here are the red headed variety, but we have at least four types of woodpeckers that visit our backyard. I enjoy watching them.

4:16 pm  
Blogger jazzycat said...

Nice photographs. I have been taking a lot of Cardinal photos lately. They are beautiful birds. Did you take the ice photos below?

BTW, there is much evidence the planet is beginning to cool again.

9:24 pm  

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