The peck of the bunch
I HAD a query the other day from a member of the public asking how long a woodpecker was going to carry on pecking on a wooden tiled church steeple in Folkestone. This was due to imminent repairs, but they were going to wait until after the woodpecker had finished drumming. The woodpecker, I presume, is the great spotted woodpecker which is one of three species of woodpecker commonly found in Britain. With this species they do not sing to mark out their breeding territory, but they drum on a piece of dead wood high in a tree, or on a wooden tiled church steeple in this case or last year opposite my house on a telegraph pole. The male and the female both drum and the noise is created by the bird hammering very quickly and very hard on the wood to produce a resonance. It only lasts a second or two, with a short interval before the next drum. The great spotted woodpecker has a black and white plumage with a red patch underneath the tail. The males have a red patch at the back of the head, while the females lack this. The youngsters which leave the nest have a complete red crown until the autumn when they moult into the adult’s plumage. As for how long the drumming will continue, if the pair are successful in rearing youngsters, I would hazard a guess the drumming will tail off very quickly and cease by mid summer, when the family disperses. However, there is no reason why they would not be back next year.
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The greater spotted woodpecker