Lesser Spotted Woodpecker

Dendrocopos minor



The smallest woodpecker of the region. Similar to the Great Spotted Woodpecker, but it doesn't have the same white patches on the wings, nor the red feathers beneath the tail. Mostly black back, and the wings are black with white barring. The underparts are dirty-looking white and have thin dark streaks. A black stripe begins at the bill and travels to the side of the head, then down the side of the breast. Male's have a white-flecked red crown, while female's crown is brownish-white. Juveniles are similar to adult females, though they are streakier.


Prefers to breed in lower habitats in woods, parks, some agricultural land, and hedgerows.


Dwells in thick leaves in trees, sneaking along branches and feeding up there too. Moves the wings more rapidly than other woodpeckers, and males have a very attractive, fluttery display flight. Usually seen alone when not breeding, though small mixed-species groups may form in autumn and winter.


Reaches insect nest chambers with is lengthy, sticky tongue. Mostly eats adults and larvae of beetles, aphids, moths, ants, sawflies and the grubs of gall wasps.


Nesting occurs in a tree nest-hole during April and May. Female lays 4-6 eggs which both adults incubate for 14-15; the male usually takes his turn at night. Hatchlings are fed by both parents and depart the nest at about 18-22 days old.


This is a resident bird which doesn't stray far from nesting areas, except when the need to search for food arises. It's believed that the region has between 1000 and 2000 pairs.

Observation Tips

The Lesser Spotted Woodpecker is an unobtrusive species that can be difficult to find. The 'drum' call gives a clue, and is heard most regularly during spring. Wales and central and southern England hold the largest populations, though even these are few.


Has a piercing 'pee, pee, pee', and 'drums' (with its beak against trees) quickly but the sound is quiet. Drumming most common between February and April. Has a gentle 'kik' call if alarmed.
Back to Bird Index