Fun Great Spotted Woodpecker Facts For Kids

Moumita Dutta
Jan 04, 2023 By Moumita Dutta
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Katherine Cook
Fact-checked by Deeti Gupta
Interesting great spotted woodpecker facts for kids.

Great spotted woodpeckers are a type of bird found in the Northern Hemisphere, throughout Europe, Asia, Africa, and America. They are mostly found in the northern parts of these countries but they sometimes migrate to the south.

They have a mid-size body and are covered in black and white feathers. They have white shoulders but males have a red patch on the back of their necks and this helps to distinguish between the sexes. The undersides of their bellies also have a red patch.

They can eat a variety of food and they live in woodlands, gardens, and groves. Great spotted woodpeckers fly pretty far for feeding but are very territorial creatures, especially during mating.

Keep reading to learn more fun facts about this bird. You can also check out Gila woodpeckers and pileated woodpecker facts.

Great Spotted Woodpecker Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a great spotted woodpecker?

A great spotted woodpecker (Dendrocopos major) is a type of woodpecker belonging to the bird family. More specifically, it is a type of woodpecker that is found throughout North Asia, Africa, Europe, and parts of North America.

What class of animal does a great spotted woodpecker belong to?

Great spotted woodpeckers belong to the Aves class of the Animalia kingdom.

How many great spotted woodpeckers are there in the world?

There are a lot of great spotted woodpeckers in the world and 35% of this species are found in Europe.  The global population is estimated to be somewhere between 70 to 110 million.

Where does a great spotted woodpecker live?

Great spotted woodpeckers are found throughout the Northern Hemisphere. They are found in northern Europe, North America, North Asia, and North Africa. They avoid places that are too cold and some of these birds migrate to warmer areas during winter.

What is a great spotted woodpecker's habitat?

Great spotted woodpeckers are found throughout Eurasia, Africa, and North America. They are found almost everywhere in the Northern Hemisphere except in places that are too cold or too dry.

Their habitat consists of wilderness, gardens, parks, and groves. Anyplace where there are trees to accommodate them can be used as a habitat. They can be found living in areas that are 8,200 ft (2,500 m) above sea level.

Woodpeckers living in high altitudes might descend to lower altitudes during winter. They also might migrate from coniferous forests due to a lack of trees during winters.

They are vagrant in nature. These birds are not systematically migratory but they roam around. Even young birds fly pretty far away from where they hatch.

Great spotted woodpeckers became extinct in Ireland due to rampant deforestation in the 17th century. Since then, they have naturally migrated to this country again and their numbers are increasing in Ireland once again.

Who do great spotted woodpeckers live with?

Great spotted woodpeckers are mostly solitary animals, but they live in pairs during mating season.

How long does a great spotted woodpecker live?

A great spotted woodpecker is known to have lived a maximum of 11 years. However, there is no consensus about their average lifespan, with estimates varying from 2-11 years.

How do they reproduce?

Both a great spotted woodpecker male and female reach sexual maturity when they are one year old. They commence the mating process in winter, usually in December. A male attracts a female through displays of their flight and their tail feathers.

They practise seasonal monogamy. They make their nests in trees, utility poles and nest boxes. Males do most of the excavating. After mating, females lay four to six eggs in April and June.

The eggs are incubated by both adults for about 10-12 days before the eggs hatch. Young birds are fed by both parents and are dependent on their parents for about 10 days for feeding. These birds usually mate once a year.

What is their conservation status?

Great spotted woodpeckers are listed as Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature or the IUCN Red List. There are almost 70 to 110 million of them in the world and their numbers continue to increase.

Great Spotted Woodpecker Fun Facts

What do great spotted woodpeckers look like?

Great spotted woodpeckers are usually 7.8-9.8 in (20-24 cm) long. They have black and white feathers covering their bodies and have white shoulders. These birds also have a small but sturdy beak.

A bright red patch can be found on the underbelly of these woodpeckers. Adult males also have a red patch of feathers on the back of their necks while this red patch is absent in females. Their necks are usually black and their beaks are black and their eyes are red.

Juvenile birds are not as glossy or as clean as adults. Markings on juvenile birds' bodies are also less defined. While young, both sexes sport a red cap on their heads.

How does great spotted woodpeckers look like

How cute are they?

Great spotted woodpeckers are pretty cute and are a medium-sized species of birds. They have a black and white pattern on their feathers and also a scarlet underbelly. Males of this species also have a scarlet patch on the backs of their necks. Newborn juvenile birds are very cute as well.

How do they communicate?

The most common way for woodpeckers to communicate with each other is through drumming. Drumming is a process that woodpeckers are famous for.

They peck the sides of trees at a rapid speed to create a unique pattern of sound. This communication method is used to attract mates during the mating season and also to keep other species of woodpeckers out of their territories. Great spotted woodpeckers, especially the males, are very territorial and peck on trees to announce their territory.

How big is a great spotted woodpecker?

A great spotted woodpecker is a medium-sized bird. The length of an adult great spotted woodpecker has a range from 7.8-9.8 in (20-24 cm) and they have a wingspan range of about 13-15 in (33-38 cm).

How fast can a great spotted woodpecker run?

The exact speed of a great spotted woodpecker in the air or on land is not available. However, they are moderately fast birds.

Their drumming speed is impressive and it ranges from around 10 strikes per second. This fast drumming means they have extremely strong neck muscles and beaks. Their flying speed is believed to be up to 15 mph (24 kph).

How much does a great spotted woodpecker weigh?

Normally an adult great spotted woodpecker weighs about 2.4-3.2 oz (70-90 g). Males and females are almost equal in size.

What are their male and female names of the species?

There are no specific names for the males and females of the species. They are simply called a male great spotted woodpecker and a female great spotted woodpecker.

What would you call a baby great spotted woodpecker?

There are no specific names for a baby great spotted woodpecker. Like other baby birds, they can be called 'nestlings' or 'fledglings'.

What do they eat?

A great spotted woodpecker diet consists of a variety of insects and other food. They also eat worms, spiders, and larvae. These birds are omnivores and they eat nuts, seeds, and fruits. Their diet is not fixed and they can survive on a variety of food.

Are they aggressive?

These birds are not very aggressive but they are very territorial. The average area of a great spotted woodpecker's territory consists of about 12 acres (5 ha) of land. These territories are mostly protected by males. A great spotted woodpecker female is attracted to this territorial behavior.

Would they make a good pet?

It is not allowed to have woodpeckers as pets because their numbers are rapidly decreasing. Even though there are a lot of great spotted woodpeckers in the world, it is still illegal to keep them as pets.

However, you can care for an injured woodpecker until they are better and can survive on their own in rehabilitation centers. You can also keep bird feeders outside in your garden to help provide food to wild woodpeckers.

Did you know...

One of the main reasons for injury and death in juvenile great spotted woodpeckers is that they often fly into windows.

Other than drumming, a great spotted woodpecker call also includes a sharp 'kik' as a means to communicate.

A great spotted woodpecker is the symbol of death in a few cultures.

How many times a day does a great spotted woodpecker drum?

A great spotted woodpecker call, also known as a great spotted woodpecker drumming, is very fast. A male that is not paired with a female might drum on trees about 600 times per day.

While the paired males drum much less about 200 times a day. They can drum at a speed of about 10 strikes per second. Females drum much less than males.

How has a great spotted woodpecker adapted?

They have strong neck muscles that help them to drum fast. These birds also have dense skulls and strong beaks to absorb the impact of rapid drumming. They have strong tails that support them when they sit on trees to drum.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds including red-cockaded woodpecker, or golden oriole.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our woodpecker coloring pages.

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Written by Moumita Dutta

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

Moumita Dutta picture

Moumita DuttaBachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.

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Fact-checked by Deeti Gupta

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English Literature

Deeti Gupta picture

Deeti GuptaBachelor of Arts specializing in English Literature

A detail-oriented fact-checker with a research-oriented approach. Devika has a passion for creative writing, she has been published on multiple digital publishing platforms and editorials before joining the Kidadl team. Currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from St.Xavier's College, Deeti has won several accolades and writing competitions throughout her academic career.

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