Watch for Woody Woodpecker
In June young Great Spotted Woodpeckers are ushered by their parents into gardens showing them where to find a reliable meal and independence. The strategy clearly works. Records submitted through the year-round British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) Garden BirdWatch survey* show that young Great Spotted Woodpeckers tend to be accompanied by their parents during early June, but then arrive alone in gardens later in the month. The survey also shows that June is the best month to see Great Spotted Woodpeckers on your patch.
On the up
Overall numbers of Great Spotted Woodpeckers coming into gardens throughout the year are on the up. Since 2003, numbers seen by BTO Garden BirdWatch participants have increased by almost a third. This increase has shown a fascinating northward spread, with many more gardens in Scotland now visited. Beyond the garden gate, both in the UK and across Europe, Great Spotted Woodpecker populations are also increasing in size.
Great Spotted Woodpeckers will take a wide variety of foods in gardens, happily hammering peanuts, chiselling suet-blocks or clearing trays of mealworms. As long as they can get a good grip on a feeder and can reach the food inside, they will sample most things. A Great Spotted Woodpecker’s tongue can protrude some 40 mm beyond the tip of its bill – so not much is out of their reach!
Top feeding suggestions
Particular favourites are BTO Peanuts in a BTO Peanut Feeder, which has a FeedSafe antibacterial coating, BTO Super Suet Balls in a BTO Suet Ball Feeder, also with a FeedSafe coating and Ernest Charles Live Mealworms, provided in an Ernest Charles Live Food Tray. A full range of BTO wild bird food and bird feeders is available at www.ernest-charles.com.
What to look for†
Identifying a Great Spotted Woodpecker is relatively easy. Great Spotted Woodpeckers are about the size of Starlings. Juveniles can be distinguished from adults by the presence of a red skull cap and pale red under-tail coverts (like pale red underpants). Adults have bright red under-tail covets and a black skull cap. Adult males can be distinguished from adult females through the presence of a small rectangle of red feathers on the back of the head.
For a free BTO Garden BirdWatch enquiry pack: email email@example.com, telephone 01842-750050 or write to Garden BirdWatch, BTO, The Nunnery, Thetford, Norfolk, IP24 2PU.
Ernest Charles, wild bird food and bird feeder on-line and catalogue specialist, has teamed up with partner the British Trust for Ornithology to select a favourite bird of the month. For June the choice is the Great Spotted Woodpecker.