Lesser Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos minor)

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker

[order] PICIFORMES | [family] Picidae | [latin] Dendrocopos minor | [UK] Lesser Spotted Woodpecker | [FR] Pic epeichette | [DE] Kleinspecht | [ES] Carpinterito Manchado Pequeno | [NL] Kleine Bonte Specht


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range
Dendrocopos minor EU widespread
Dendrocopos minor amurensis ne China, Siberia, Korea and Hokkaido (Japan)
Dendrocopos minor buturlini s Europe
Dendrocopos minor colchicus Caucasus and Transcaucasia (sw Asia)
Dendrocopos minor comminutus England and Wales
Dendrocopos minor danfordi c and e Greece and Turkey
Dendrocopos minor hortorum c Europe
Dendrocopos minor hyrcanus n Iran
Dendrocopos minor immaculatus Anadyr Basin and Kamchatka Pen. (e Siberia
Dendrocopos minor kamtschatkensis Ural Mts. to the Sea of Okhotsk and n Mongolia
Dendrocopos minor ledouci nw Africa
Dendrocopos minor minor Scandinavia and ne Poland to the Ural Mts. (Russia)
Dendrocopos minor morgani sw Iran
Dendrocopos minor quadrifasciatus se Azerbaijan (sw Asia)

Physical charateristics

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.

Listen to the sound of Lesser Spotted Woodpecker

[audio:http://www.aviflevoland.nl/sounddb/L/Lesser Spotted Woodpecker.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 24 cm wingspan max.: 29 cm
size min.: 14 cm size max.: 16 cm
incubation min.: 11 days incubation max.: 12 days
fledging min.: 18 days fledging max.: 12 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 4  
      eggs max.: 7  


Eurasia : widespread


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.


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.

Feeding habits

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 an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker status Least Concern


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

Distribution map

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker distribution range map

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