NATURE TABLE: Great Spotted Woodpecker

This is is the only woodpecker found in Ireland and it only started to breed here about 10 years ago.

The experts disagree on if this is a recolonisation by a species that was here previously and became extinct or if it’s a new arrival. The first nests were found in Co Wicklow and Co Down but the species is slowly but steadily increasing its numbers and its range and there may now be up to 100 breeding pairs.

Genetic testing indicates that they came from western Britain. They are about the size of a blackbird, though with broader wings, and predominantly black and white in colour with splashes of red.

They occasionally visit peanut feeders but, apart from this are hard to spot in woodland. However, in February, March and April they betray their presence by marking territory, ‘drumming’ with their beak on a dead tree. This is loud enough to be heard 1km away in still weather usually in the mornings.


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