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Great Spotted Woodpecker

Great Spotted Woodpecker
Photo Information
Copyright: Peter van Zoest (PeterZ) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5137 W: 166 N: 13121] (49139)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2012-11-24
Categories: Birds
Camera: Nikon D300, AF Nikkor 70-300mm f4-5.6 G, Digital RAW
Exposure: f/5.6, 1/80 seconds
Details: Tripod: Yes
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version
Date Submitted: 2012-11-24 6:19
Viewed: 2644
Points: 58
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
This afternoon I made this photo in my garden.

The Great Spotted Woodpecker (or Greater Spotted Woodpecker), Dendrocopos major, is a bird species of the woodpecker family (Picidae). It is distributed throughout Europe and northern Asia, and usually resident year-round except in the colder parts of its range. It is not considered a threatened species by the IUCN, being widely distributed and quite common.

The Great Spotted Woodpecker is 23–26 centimetres long, with a 38–44 centimetres wingspan. The upperparts are glossy black, with white on the sides of the face and neck. A black line zigzags from the shoulder halfway across the breast (in some subspecies nearly meeting in the center), then back to the nape; a black stripe, extending from the bill, runs below the eye to meet this latter part of the zigzag line. On the shoulder is a large white patch and the flight feathers are barred with black and white. The three outer tail feathers are barred; these show when the short stiff tail is outspread, acting as a support in climbing. The underparts are dull white, the abdomen and undertail coverts crimson. The bill is slate black and the legs greenish grey.
Males have a crimson spot on the nape, which is absent in females and juvenile birds. In the latter, the top of the head is crimson between the bill and the center of the crown instead.

Despite its contrasting plumage, the Great Spotted Woodpecker is often an inconspicuous bird. The large white shoulder patch is the feature that most easily catches the eye. When hidden by the foliage, its presence is often advertised by the mechanical drumming, a vibrating rattle, produced by the rapidly repeated blows of strong bill upon a trunk or branch. The drumming of this species is shorter than that of the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, and fades away at the end. It is audible from a great distance, depending on the wind and the condition of the wood, a hollow bough naturally producing a louder note than living wood. The call is a sharp quet, quet.

Similar species
The male Great Spotted Woodpecker is almost unmistakable. The only species that are quite similar are the Syrian Woodpecker (D. syriacus) and the White-winged Woodpecker (D. leucopterus). The former differs in the less well-developed zigzag stripe on the neck, which neither reaches as far towards the center of the breast nor meets the black of the nape as it does in Great Spotted Woodpeckers. The latter has a far more extensive white wing patch.
Females can be distinguished from female Syrian Woodpeckers and White-winged Woodpeckers in the same way as males; the female Sind Woodpecker (D. assimilis) looks also similar but does not have the zigzag stripe reaching the nape. Great Spotted Woodpecker females can also be confused with a female White-backed Woodpecker (D. leucotos). However, the latter species lacks the white shoulder patch, having an all-white lower back instead; it also has a less well-developed zigzag stripe on the neck, just like the Syrian Woodpecker. The female Himalayan Woodpecker (D. himalayensis) is also similar, but it can be distinguished by the same characteristics as the female Syrian Woodpecker.
Immature birds resemble the Middle Spotted Woodpecker (D. medius), the male White-backed Woodpecker, the immature Syrian and White-winged Woodpeckers, and male or immature Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers (Picoides minor, formerly also in Dendrocopos). The first of these species has only an angular cheek spot instead of the zigzag stripe, while the White-backed and Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers lack the white shoulder patch and have a less well-developed zigzag stripe, as described above. The Lesser Spotted Woodpecker also has no red on the abdomen. White-backed Woodpeckers are also larger, while Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers are smaller than immature Great Spotted Woodpeckers. Differences from Syrian and White-winged Woodpeckers are the same as for adults.

It is an inhabitant of woodlands and parks, depending for food and nesting sites upon old trees. Its actions are jerky, and it hops rather than climbs, leaping forward with one foot just in advance of the other. When a space is crossed the flight is easy and undulating.
The food mainly consists of insects and grubs but also seeds, fruit, scraps, eggs, chicks and small rodents. The woodpecker usually alights on the trunk, working upwards, from side to side, but sometimes will perch in passerine style, when it sits well upright. During the ascent it taps the bark, breaking off fragments, but often extracts its prey from crevices with the tip of its sticky tongue. Beechmast, acorns, nuts and berries are eaten when animal food is scarce.
The nesting hole, neat and round, is bored in soft or decaying wood horizontally for a few inches, then perpendicularly down. At the bottom of a shaft, usually from six to twelve inches in depth, a small chamber is excavated and lined with wood chips. This woodpecker shows no marked preference for particular tree taxa, building its nest in gymnosperms and angiosperms alike.
Nesting trees chosen by this woodpecker almost invariably have soft heartwood and tough sapwood, often due to parasites or diseases that weaken the heartwood only. It is unknown how D. major finds suitable trees, though it is entirely possible that they do so by drumming, making use of the different speed of sound in materials with differing elastic modulus and density. Tree species which are rarely or never used for nesting might simply not have wood with the required properties.
The creamy-white eggs, five to seven in number, are laid in the second half of May. The young cluster at the mouth of the hole and keep a continuous chatter when the parents are feeding them, but when alarmed slip back into the hole. The nest hole is rarely used again, but not infrequently other holes are bored in the same tree.

Source: Wikipedia

goatman04, CeltickRanger, marius-secan, anel, Silvio2006, Marco2010, maaciejka, rousettus, ramthakur, josediogo1958, Chiza has marked this note useful
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ThreadThread Starter Messages Updated
To robertcolino: distancePeterZ 1 12-17 12:38
To euroblinkie: spechtPeterZ 1 11-24 08:14
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Critiques [Translate]

  • Great 
  • IronM Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 144 W: 3 N: 345] (2608)
  • [2012-11-24 6:23]

Hi Peter,
wonderful photo of this lovely woodpecker,
outstanding details, beautiful colors, composition, BG !
Well done ! Regards !

hello Peter,
what a nice picture of this Great Spotted Woodpecker with fantastic detail, colour and composition.
best wishes,

  • Great 
  • iti Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 577 W: 0 N: 650] (7939)
  • [2012-11-24 6:54]

Hi Peter,
Very nice portrait of a beautiful woodpecker in rain.
Excellent composition, colours and sharpness details.
Nice green blurred background.
Regards Jiri.

Hello Peter,
An excellent shot with beautiful coloration, details & pose. Nice composition & presentation with a great POV. Nice work & TFS. Best wishes!


Hello Peter
An excellent photo of this beautiful bird.
The light is excellent with no shadows. Nicely posed against a neutral background with good detail.
regards yiannis

Hello Peter

Excellent and very beautiful photo of the
Great Spotted Woodpecker, with fine POV and
appropriate vertical framing, great focus,
sharpness and details, very beautiful background, TFS


Hello Peter,
Incredible catch of my favorite bird. It is a interesting image taken from a very good POV. Amazing details, very good focus and sharpness. Nice contrast against the background. I like this nice species. Very lucky catch......
Thanks for sharing!

Boa tarde Peter
Lucky You my Friend!
Great capture of this wonderful woodpecker. Wonderful natural colours and excellent sharpness.I only met this species in the wild 2-3 times but no pics.Thank You.
Have a great weekend!
Best regards

hallo Peter
Super mooie opname met een super achtergrond ook er bij,moet ook maar net uitkomen
Goed van scherpte en prachtige heldere kleuren
Deze doe het goed
bedankt gr lou

  • Great 
  • anel Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 3053 W: 3 N: 8715] (40574)
  • [2012-11-24 7:30]

Hello Peter,
Very lucky and most beautiful shot! This Woodpecker just posed on the best place possible giving you a perfect green background as contrast to the colored-plumage of the bird. Very well composed too with your diagonal presentation. Best sharpness too. Bravo!
Have a nice weekend

Ciao Peter, great capture of lovely bird on beautiful lighting BG, fantastic colors, fine details and splenddi sharpness, very well done, my friend, have a good week end, ciao Silvio

Hello Peter,
Excellent photo of this Woodpecker,great sharp details,very fine colors and compozition.
Have a nice weekend!

Hello Peter,
Beautiful capture with great sharpness and details,lovely pose and very impressive composition.
TFS and my regards _Joy

Ciao Peter.
Non ho parole foto stupenda,complimenti.
Ciao Marco.

Hi Peter,
apart from this beautiful bird, I like your composition of all these colours. Just beautiful. Perfect sharpness and presentation.
Have a nice weekend,

  • Great 
  • lousat Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 6595 W: 89 N: 15659] (65489)
  • [2012-11-24 12:25]

Hi Peter,the pic is a great beauty,i like the spectacular quality despite the difficult light of the cloudy day,perfect details and colors and the drop on the branch like a pearl.Have a nice Sunday and thankd,Luciano

Ciao Peter. Impressive focused eye and beuatiful brillinat colours fop the bird and BG too.


what a lovely model and its great shot, Peter. focus, POV/OOF, and vertical composition great. coloration superb.
thanks for sharing this beauty. well done my friend

  • Great 
  • tuslaw Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2754 W: 282 N: 4931] (19883)
  • [2012-11-24 17:47]

Hello Peter,
This is certainly a very attractive woodpecker you have visiting your garden. Love the contrasting black, red and white colors and unique markings. Reminds me alot of our male Downy Woodpeckers, but a tad more colorful.
Excellent exposure and wonderful sharp focus. Great work!!

Isn't it wonderful to have a beautiful Woodpecker visiting your garden, Peter? Lucky you!
Beautiful shot with immaculate sharpness and rich colours.
The use of tripod does make a lot of difference.
Thanks and regards.

  • Great 
  • siggi Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3097 W: 109 N: 12399] (52850)
  • [2012-11-25 2:17]

Hello Peter.
Stunning sharpness, colour and detail. Wonderful DOF and colour tones in the background, makes him really stand out.Perfect exposure, superb.Regards Siggi

Beautiful bird and impressive photo Peter! Very good composition, wonderful BG, fantastic colours and good sharpness. Unfortunately we haven’t any species of in Cyprus.

Hello Peter

The colours, pose, form of this beautiful woodpecker against a really suitable green BG is treat for the eyes. The elegant profile comes out nicely in this composition.


Sensational capture,
great feather details and colors.

  • Great 
  • MMM Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1114 W: 0 N: 2546] (11425)
  • [2012-11-27 5:51]

Hello Peter
Great closed up of a species I had never seen before.Excellent point of view and great pose.As ususal razor sharp image with great detail.Lovely natural colours and great light.Excellent work my friend.
TFS Michel

wow, what a capture for this beautiful bird, congratulations Peter for the picture, lovely details and very good focus on subject,

ciao, tino

Hello Peter,
So you just make photo's in your garden. As if it is just run-of-the-mill. Well, to be quite honest, I don't know how you do it but, once again, it is just beautiful. FABULOUS in fact. What a pleasure to view and thank you for sharing it here. I am sure it is as well received as what it is sincerely offered. Thank you and best wishes.

  • Great 
  • Chiza Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 133 W: 0 N: 474] (5351)
  • [2012-11-28 18:23]

Hola Peter, una hermosa foto de un bello Carpintero que no conocía, un fondo de lujo, color, enfoque luz y entorno perfectos...saludos.

Hello Peter. Wonderful photo of this woodpecker,excellent sharpness and too big. At what distance was it?
Have a nice day.

  • Great 
  • foozi Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 2791 W: 0 N: 6696] (25839)
  • [2012-12-28 5:48]

Hello Peted,
what a strike! How special to have taken this woodpecker is splendid view. You really give a good present tovthe birdcbyvhaving its photo well presented in excellent condition.
Superbly done. congrats


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