[order] Piciformes | [family] Picidae | [latin] Dendrocopos minor | [UK] Lesser Spotted Woodpecker | [FR] Pic épeichette | [DE] Kleinspecht | [ES] Carpinterito Manchado Pequeño | [IT] Picchio rosso minore | [NL] Kleine Bonte Specht

Kleine Bonte Specht determination

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The Lesser Spotted Woodpecker is Europe's smallest woodpecker and is about the same size as a Greenfinch. It is a pied woodpecker like the Great Spotted Woodpecker but lacks the large white wing patches. The head is black and white: black nape and white forehead, cheeks and throat. The back, wings and tail are black, except for the white bars. The underparts are whitish-buff with darker streaks. The bill is black, the legs are grey-green and the eye is a reddish-brown. The sexes are similar except that the male has a red crown with a black border and the female a whitish crown. Juveniles have some red on the crown and have browner, streaked underparts. As with other woodpeckers, the stiff tail feathers are used as a prop when it is clinging to a tree, and its toes are specially arranged with two pointing forwards and two backwards.

Resident almost throughout wooded regions of Europe except for some oceanic fringes in Scandinavia, Britain, and Ireland, and in coastal woodlands of Asia Minor and locally in North Africa. Accordingly ranges through greater latitudinal depth than other Dendrocopos except Great Spotted Woodpecker with correspondingly greater tolerance of high and low temperatures, wind, and rainfall. Also less demanding arboreally, often nesting in side branches of trees rather than in trunk, and foraging on branches and foliage of trees or scrub, as well as catching insects in the air. Availability of easily worked decayed wood may be more essential than tree height or species. Prefers open broad-leaved woodland, edges, spinneys, parkland, riparian and other tree lines or avenues, and orchards.

Dendrocopos minor is a widespread resident across most of Europe, which accounts for less than half of its global range. Its European breeding population is large (>450,000 pairs), and was stable between 1970-1990. Although the species declined in some countries during 1990-2000, and the trend of the key population in Russia was unknown, most populations across Europe—including the sizeable one in France—were stable.

Almost exclusively insects. Rarely feeds on ground. In summer, chiefly searches for insects on surface of tree-trunks, branches, and leaves; in winter, pecks at rotten wood to find beetle larvae and adults beneath bark, often examining twigs smaller than those used by other west Palearctic woodpeckers. Agile in gleaning, searching upper and lower surfaces of leaves; favours deciduous species such as rowan and aspen, and thin, vertical branches in deciduous tree crowns. Also in summer may take insects by aerial-pursuit or fly out at them from a perch, warbler-like. Fruit occasionally taken.

This species has a large range, with an estimated global Extent of Occurrence of 10,000,000 km². It has a large global population, including an estimated 890,000-2,100,000 individuals in Europe (BirdLife International in prep.). Global population trends have not been quantified; there is evidence of a population decline (del Hoyo et al. 2002), but the species is not believed to approach the thresholds for the population decline criterion of the IUCN Red List (i.e. declining more than 30% in ten years or three generations). For these reasons, the species is evaluated as Least Concern. [conservation status from birdlife.org]

Egg laying in North-west Europe from late April or early May. Similar in central Europe and southern and central FSU, but up to 3 weeks later in Scandinavia, and 2 weeks later in Tunisia. One brood. Nest is built in a hole in tree, frequently in side branch, and in rotten wood. Nest is an excavated hole with entrance diameter 3-3.5 cm; depth 10-18 cm. Clutch size 4-6 eggs incubated for 11-12 days, young fledge after 18-20 days.

Mainly resident in the temperate zones of range, Scandinavian population dispersive.