Great Spotted Woodpecker

Name: Great Spotted Woodpecker

Scientific name: Dendrocopus major

Category: Birds

Nature Stars: 40

What are nature stars?


A medium-sized woodpecker, about the same size as a blackbird. Black and white, with large white patches on the back, red underneath the tail. Males have a red patch at the back of the head. Woodpeckers nest in holes that they excavate in trees. If you spot them from a distance, they have a distinctive, bouncing flight!

Great spotted woodpeckers probe tree trunks for insects and larvae to eat; they have extremely sticky tongues enabling them to extract the insects from their nests. In autumn and winter they will switch to eating berries and nuts and will visit peanut feeders hung in the garden.

How to identify: Only likely to be confused with the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, which is much smaller, only about the size of a sparrow.

Where: Widespread, although absent from northern Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Natural Superpowers

  • Predator: 70
  • Agility: 80
  • Rarity: 40
  • Cute factor: 70
  • Traveller: 30

Fantastic fact: In the last couple of years, the Great Spotted Woodpecker has started to nest in Ireland for the first time.

Photograph credit: Photo credit tbc