Nest holes, especially woodpeckers
Our three regular nesting woodpecker species all excavate their own nesting cavities, by patient picking away (with their bills) in tree trunks and thick branches. This excavation is not to be confused with the drumming sound which the two spotted woodpeckers make. Drumming is a rapid rattling burst of sound, made by high speed tapping of the bill on a resonant branch to make a far-reaching mechanical ‘song’. Excavation is an altogether slower, and more powerful, action, in order to chisel away bark and wood, piece by piece. The three species are all very different in size; the Lesser Spotted is sparrow-sized, the Great Spotted not too different in size from a Starling, and the Green is roughly Mistle Thrush-sized. The general rule of nest holes is that birds choose, or make a hole into which they can just fit, while larger, potentially threatening species can’t get in. This is reflected in the three woodpeckers nest holes. Lesser Spotted Woodpecker holes are small (looking like a hole in a Great Tit nestbox); Great Spotted Woodpecker holes are mid-sized, and Green Woodpecker holes look very big. All three of our woodpeckers produce round holes, usually in relatively soft wood. You may also find trees and stumps of dead trees with many partially complete ‘practice’ holes, where woodpeckers have been trying out their technique.