Home Newsletter Locations Diary




Lesser Spotted Woodpecker

Latin Name: Dendrocopos Minor

The Lesser Spotted Woodpecker is the smallest of the 3 woodpeckers resident in Britain. It tends to nest and feed higher up in trees and it's 'drumming' is a lot quieter than that of the Great Spotted. When feeding it creeps along branches and flutters from branch to branch.

Best time to see them is in spring when it is active and there are not too many leaves on the trees, and it is at this time when they are likely to be calling and drumming.

Populations of Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers are mostly resident, but can be nomadic to some degree. Annual fluctuations in population numbers are common. The winter temperatures may have a direct affect on winter survival of Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers by heat loss, whereas weather conditions during spring have an indirect affect on breeding performance by affecting food production.


It is a black and white small bird, very similar to the Great Spotted Woodpecker, and because of it's size and the fact it spends most of its time in the tops of tall trees in woods and parks, this little woodpecker is often overlooked or not recognised. In flight the Lesser Spotted is so small you may not realise it is a woodpecker but the rounded wings and short pointed tail should provide clues.

The male has a red crown, a brown forehead, a black stripe down

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker

the back of its head, and another from the base of the bill to the neck. The nape and upper back are black, but the lower back is barred with black and white stripes. On the wings are broader and more conspicuous bars. The outer tail feathers are also striped. The under parts are white with black/brown streaks on the flanks. The bill and legs are slate-grey. The female is very similar however she has a white crown rather than red. The juveniles of both sexes have more or less crimson on their heads.

Animal Facts

In Britain: All year

Life Span: Maximum recorded age 6yrs 3 months.

Statistics: Length 14cm, Weight 21g, Wingspan 26cm

Habitat: Forests and woodlands

Food: insects and their larvae as well as spiders.

Breeding: 4-6 eggs laid around late May, incubation 14-15 days, young fledge at 19-22 days. Its nest will be high up in the tree may be 30 or 40 feet up. It makes a hole about 1-2 inches wide and creates a nesting cavity about 12 inches below the opening. Both birds incubate and they generally only have one brood.

Conservation Status

Least Concern

Distribution: In the UK there are thought to be around 1,400-2,900 breeding pairs. It is mainly found in the south with it's highest population density in the south east of England. They do not breed in Scotland or on islands such as the Isle of Wight, although they can be found on the Channel Islands. In northern England they are found in local populations in Yorkshire, rare in Lancashire and in Wales there are scattered pairs. They are not found in Northern or Southern Ireland.

Behaviour: From autumn to spring it hunts mainly on wood-living insect larvae, frequently from thin dead branches in living trees. It chips away at the rotten wood, and the litter at the foot of a tree is often the first indication that insects are attacking upper branches. Through the breeding season, surface-living insects from the foliage and bark of trees make up an increased amount of the diet. Young are mainly fed with surface-living insects, such as aphids and larval insects. At night it roosts in old holes.

Conservation Status: Least concern worldwide, however in the UK the RSPB have them flagged at their Red Status which signifies a rapid decline in the UK breeding population over the last 25 years.


See Also

Green Woodpecker

Great Spotted Woodpecker

Photographing Woodpeckers


RSPB - Lesser Spotted Woodpecker - a sound recording



By: Tracey Park Section: Birds Key:
Page Ref: woodpecker_lspotted Topic: Wildlife & Animals Last Updated: 05/2009

This page:

Link directly to this page, with text or the button on right.

Text linking: Lesser Spotted Woodpecker on Photographers Resource

Linking Instructions                            http://www.photographers-resource.co.uk/

Photographers Resource, all the information for the photographer