Woodpeckers have shock-absorbent tissue between the base of the bill and the skull to cushion the impact of drumming.
Drumming has been recorded on many objects other than trees, ranging from weather vanes to metal poles.
Drumming is used by both sexes to make contact. The first drums are usually heard in early January, and they will continue until June.
An unpaired male may drum as many as 600 times a day; a paired male just 200 times.
The nest hole is invariably excavated by both sexes, and may be used again in subsequent seasons.
Both sexes incubate the clutch of white eggs that take about 12 days to hatch.
Inexperienced young woodpeckers frequently crash into windows: this is a major cause of death of juvenile birds.
Individual parents will look after members of the brood once they have left the nest, feeding them for the first 10 days, by which time they will start to be increasingly independent.
In the last 20 years Great Spotted Woodpeckers have become increasingly regular visitors to birdfeeding stations where peanuts and suet are their favourite foods.
The recent sharp fall in numbers of Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers may also be attributable to competition and predation from their larger cousins.
Though insects are the staple diet, tree seeds supplement this in the winter and birds’ eggs and fledglings in the spring.
Marsh and Willow Tit nests are particularly vulnerable to attack, so the increase in Great Spot numbers may explain the decline of these two tits.
Numbers have increased strongly in Britain in the last 30 years. This may have been initiated by Dutch elm disease providing an abundance of feeding opportunities.
No woodpeckers breed in Ireland but the Great Spotted is a rare and irregular visitor.
There was a marked range expansion in Britain during the last century, following a sudden and unexplained contraction 200 years ago.
It's easy to tell the sexes apart because only the male has the patch of scarlet on the back of the neck.
Young birds can be easily recognised by their scarlet caps. They lose this as soon as they moult into adult plumage.
Migrant Great Spots from northern Europe occasionally reach Britain in the autumn. They are bigger than our birds and have conspicuously white underparts.
Its success is attributable to its adaptability for it occurs in both deciduous and coniferous woodland and breeds from sea level to 9,000ft.
The Great is the most numerous and widely distributed woodpecker in Europe and can be found from southern Spain to northern Scandinavia.
Just two species of spotted woodpeckers can be found in the British Isles: the Great (not greater) and Lesser. On the Continent three similar species can also be found: Middle Spotted, White-backed and Syrian.
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