Lesser Spotted Woodpecker

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker

Key facts

Scientific name: Dryobates minor (Dendrocopos minor)

Status: Resident breeding species

Breeding birds: 1,000-2,000 pairs

Conservation status: Red

Length: 14 – 16 cm

Wingspan: 25 – 27 cm

Weight: 17 – 25 g


Lesser spotted woodpeckers are the smallest and least common of the UK’s three woodpeckers.


Male lesser spotted woodpeckers have black upperparts with the lower back barred with white. Their wings are broad with conspicuous bars and they have white bars on their outer tail feathers. Their underparts are white with streaks on the flanks. They have brown foreheads, black supercillary stripes, and a bright red crown.

Female lesser spotted woodpeckers are similar to males except their crowns are white.

Juveniles resemble adults but both sexes have crimson crowns.


Lesser spotted woodpeckers begin breeding in late April. They nest in excavated holes in trees which are lined with wood dust and chips. Males do most of the excavation. The nests are located up high usually 10-20 metres from the ground.

Lesser spotted woodpeckers lay 5-8 glossy, white eggs which are incubated by both parents for 11-12 days. Chicks fledge 18-30 days later.


Lesser spotted woodpeckers eat insects, larvae, and spiders.

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker

Where to see them

Lesser spotted woodpeckers can be spotted in woods, parklands, gardens, and orchards. They are found mainly in south-east England and occasionally northern England and Wales.

The best time of year to look out for them is in the spring when they are most active.  


Albert Lastukhin/xeno-canto

Did you know?

Lesser spotted woodpeckers mark their territory by drumming. Each drum roll is about twice the length of that of the great spotted woodpecker and it is higher pitched. 

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