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Great Spotted Woodpecker

Frequently seen in broad-leaf woodland and in gardens near to woodland

Photograph by: 
Peter Orchard

They say the camera never lies and so, if proof is needed, here it is - the great spotted woodpecker (Dendrocopos major) loves peanuts and as a result is at number 18 in the RSPB top garden bird visitors survey.

We associate the great spotted woodpecker with woodland, of course, and so gardens near woodland will have a higher chance of a visit from one. They are quite striking birds and always bring a bit of excitement when they appear. They are very keen on peanuts but less so, it seems, on seed. The container needs to be easily accessible so that they have a clear flight path in and then out again, and they need a container they can cling to easily. The squirrel proofing cage here only helps to support the bird rather than prevent it getting access to the nuts.

The great spotted woodpecker is common across Dorset so there could be one in your garden on your nut bag any time soon.


Common Name Great Spotted Woodpecker
Scientific Name Dendrocopos major
Species Group Other Small Land Birds
Status Occasional
Interest Level
  • 01 - January
  • 02 - February
  • 03 - March
  • 04 - April
  • 05 - May
  • 06 - June
  • 07 - July
  • 08 - August
  • 09 - September
  • 10 - October
  • 11 - November
  • 12 - December
Look for

A distant drumming sound in early spring

Identification Notes
  • Usually found in woodland settings, prefers broadleaf but also occurs amongst conifers
  • Will be seen on feeders in gardens that are near woodland, espcially in winter
  • As well as the distinctive drumming it makes in spring it has a sharp, loud contact/alarm call
Primary Habitat
Preferred Environment
Look for
Additional Identification Notes
Similar Species

The records for this species have been organised into reports, charts, maps and photos. Click a pic below to see the detail:

Notebook Sites List Distribution Map Some Charts Some Photographs Recent Records Guidance Notes

To see related species click here: 

Other Small Land Birds