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Great Spotted Woodpecker

Dendrocopus major

Mórchnagaire breac

Status: Recent colonist to broadleaf forests in eastern Ireland.

Conservation Concern: Green-listed in Ireland. The European population has been evaluated as Secure.

Identification
: About the same size as Mistle Thrush. A distinctive black and white bird when seen well. The face, throat and underparts are white, while the back, rump and tail are black. Also has a large white patch at the base of the wings, while the vent is pale red. In flight, the wings are mainly black, with obvious rows of spotting on the primaries and secondaries. Adult male Great Spotted Woodpeckers are identifiable by a small red patch on the back of the head. Adult females have a black nape and crown.

Similar Species
: None in Ireland.

Call: The most frequently heard call is a loud "kick", when agitated given in a continous series. Does not sing, but has distinctive drumming display from early Spring onwards. Drumms last between 1 and 2 seconds.

Diet: Feeds on insects found in wood, as well as pine cones in autumn. During the breeding season, may also take eggs and chicks of other birds. Will visit garden bird tables in suburban areas.

Breeding: Only a handful of pairs breed in Ireland, usually in oak woodlands with some coniferous woods nearby. A common species in Britain and Continental Europe and frequently visits bird feeders in gardens. Breeds in nestholes it excavates in decaying wood.

Wintering: Great Spotted Woodpeckers remain on their territory during the winter. Young birds move to new territories in autumn

Where to See: The good places to look for Great Spotted Woodpeckers include the woodlands around the Glendalough Lakes, as well as Tomnafinogue Wood in south County Wicklow.

Monitored by: Countryside Bird Survey, Great Spotted Woodpecker Survey and BirdTrack.

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