Bird of the Month – September 2021

Great-spotted Woodpecker

Great-spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos major hispanicus. A common resident in our part of Spain and largely sedentary, but young birds are known to disperse considerable distances and some adult individuals can have a tendency to wander, which has led to the recent colonisation of Ireland, whilst some vagrants have been recorded as far away as North America.

Great-spotted Woodpecker – female.

Our resident bird Dendrocopos major hispanicus is darker on the underside than it’s northern brethren, but you should also look hard at individuals as the African subspecies Dendrocopos major mauritanus have been discovered breeding in Malaga province, particularly Sierra de las Nieves and other nearby woodlands; this subspecies, particularly the male, is quite distinctive with pale below and red in the centre of its breast.

Great-spotted Woodpecker male.

The local population appears to be increasing, unlike its small relative the Lesser-spotted Woodpecker, which continues an alarming decline. The Great-spotted Woodpecker occurs in Eurasia from the British Isles to Japan, also in Africa from Morocco to Tunisia, areas too cold or too dry to have suitable woodland habitat appears to be the only limitation to this wide distribution.

World distribution for Great-spotted Woodpecker


Article: Peter Jones
Photos: Peter Jones

Note: The views expressed in articles are those of the authors, and are not necessarily those of the Society.

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