Great spotted woodpecker (Dendrocopos major)

This film shows a great spotted woodpecker (Dendrocopos major) which was filmed in eastern Poland.

This bird is found throughout northern Eurasia from the Atlantic to the Pacific. It has recently returned to Ireland from the British mainland - it would appear to have disappeared from Ireland around 400 years ago. It lives in woods and lightly wooded areas.

The great spotted woodpecker grows up to 26cm in length and has a wingspan of up to 45cm. The upperparts are glossy black, with white on the sides of the face and neck. A black line zigzags from the shoulder halfway across the breast then back to the nape; a black stripe, extending from the bill, runs below the eye to meet this latter part of the zigzag line. On the shoulder is a large white patch and the flight feathers are barred with black and white. The three outer tail feathers are barred; these show when the short stiff tail is outspread, acting as a support in climbing. The underparts are dull white, the abdomen and undertail coverts crimson. The bill is slate black and the legs greenish grey. Males have a crimson spot on the nape, which is absent in females and juvenile birds. In the latter, the top of the head is crimson between the bill and the center of the crown instead.

The bird lays from five to seven eggs in the second half of May in a nest hole which is usually used only once.

The bird feeds on grubs and insects it finds in trees and will supplement its diet with berries when available.

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