Great spotted woodpecker: hello handsome
It is often argued that ornithologists tend to dwell too much on rare or declining birds and ignore those that are flourishing. So here, instead of more doom and gloom, is a brief look at one of the most dynamic of Britain’s birds: the great spotted woodpecker.
For most people, the great spot is the woodpecker for this is the one they see most often in their garden. Thirty years ago you were lucky if you saw a great spotted woodpecker in your garden but now you’re unlucky if you don’t. These handsome black, white and scarlet birds are peanut enthusiasts; once they have discovered a conveniently situated feeder in their territory they will come back again and again often with many repeat visits in a day. They also find suet cakes irresistible.
As is so often the case, it’s difficult to know for certain what triggered their impressive rise in numbers – figures from the BTO show an increase of over 400% from 1967-2010. The abundance of dead timber as a result of Dutch elm disease back in the 70s and early 80s certainly helped. A change in behaviour is also a possibility: these woodpeckers are less shy than they used to be and this is reflected in their much more frequent visits to gardens. A bird to be enjoyed.