It rarely migrates; rather, it is a bird bound to its roost. It is not a songbird; instead, it makes its presence known by rumbling against the trunk of a tree. Both males and females do this.
It belongs to the woodpecker family.
The list of woodpeckers is still under discussion and is being developed. It currently includes 236 species in 36 genera. There are about 20 subspecies of the great spotted woodpecker.
The great spotted woodpecker is native to Europe, northern Africa, and central and northern Asia.
It lives in deciduous, coniferous and mixed forests as well as in man-made areas such as parks, gardens, orchards and plantations.
Most birds are sedentary, but some migrate in the fall.
In winter, high-altitude populations tend to migrate to lower altitudes.
They are medium-sized birds. Adult body length is 20 to 24 centimeters.
The wingspan is 34 to 39 centimeters and the weight varies from 70 to 98 grams.
They are quite contrastingly colored - 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 patch in the lower part. The beak is graphite black, the legs are greenish gray, and the eye is bright red. The male can be distinguished from the female by the presence of a red transverse patch located on the nape of the neck.
They are omnivorous, with invertebrates forming the basis of their menu.
Their diet includes beetle larvae, adult beetles, spiders, ants and caterpillars. They make up for the lack of meat with pine and spruce seeds and fruits in autumn and winter. In extreme cases, the woodpecker may raid nests of other birds, eat eggs and chicks, or feed on carrion.
It uses its tongue to catch insects that live under the bark of trees.
The woodpecker is equipped with a long and bristly tongue covered with sticky saliva. The bird can extend it up to 4 centimeters beyond its beak. This feature is due to the flexible hyoid bone to which the tongue is attached. When needed, the woodpecker is able to move the flexible horns of the hyoid bone forward to extend its reach.
They store cones in places called "forges."
Forges are places in cracks in the bark or forks in branches. There they store the cones, which they then pluck to feed on the seeds hidden in them.
They drink the sap of birch trees.
In spring, woodpeckers pierce the bark of birch trees and drink the sap that flows from the trunk.
The nesting season begins in April and lasts until June.
Courtship begins as early as December. They breed one brood per year, the eggs being laid in the first weeks of May. A female can lay 5 to 7 white eggs, 26x19 mm in size.
Both parents are responsible for hatching eggs and feeding the chicks.
Hatching lasts about 12 days from the day of laying the last egg. After hatching, the chicks remain in the nest for at least three weeks. The young are fed even after leaving the nest.
The great spotted woodpecker reaches sexual maturity at the age of one year.
To impress a female, the male performs a spectacular flight show, flapping his wings, spreading his tail, and calling for her.
Woodpeckers build their nests in the hollows of large trees.
They prefer damaged tree trunks as potential homes and treat digging a hole in a healthy tree as a last resort when they have no other choice. Digging a hollow takes from two to three weeks. Woodpeckers rarely inhabit the same hollow, usually creating a new one each year. They also like to occupy nesting boxes.
They forge their hollows between 0.3 and 8 meters above the ground.
Sometimes the hollow may be located higher, up to 20 meters. The male does most of the construction work. The entrance hole is 4.5 to 5.5 centimeters in diameter and leads into a chamber 25 to 35 centimeters deep, littered with sawdust and wood chips produced during construction.
Great spotted woodpeckers are highly territorial, and their range can be as extensive as 5 hectares.
They inhabit it year-round and the male is mainly responsible for defense.
They spend winters in interspecific groups.
Then they are met in the company of other woodpeckers, tits, nuthatches, treecreepers, and goldcrests.
During the breeding season, the pair remains in a monogamous relationship.
Before the next breeding season arrives, they often change partners.
Woodpeckers are most often victims of birds of prey.
Goshawk and sparrowhawk are the greatest threats to these birds. Because of predation, survival rates of these birds cannot be accurately estimated.
The maximum lifespan of a great spotted woodpecker is about 11 years.