The Lesser Spotted Wodpecker is identified by the broad barring on the wings and narrower bars across the lower back. The male has a crimson crown, a brown forehead, a black superciliary stripe. The nape and upper back are black, but the lower back is barred with black and white. On the wings are broader and more conspicuous bars, and the outer tail feathers are also barred. The under parts are white with streaks on the flanks. The bill and legs are slate-grey. In the female the crown is white, but the young birds of both sexes have more or less crimson on the head. There are no marked seasonal changes.

Habitat and Distribution

The range of the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker is the Palearctic region, but several subspecies are recognised.


Its insect food is similar to that of the Great Spotted Woodpecker. From autumn to spring it hunts mainly on wood-living insect larvae, frequently from thin dead branches in living trees. Nestlings are mainly fed aphids and larval insects.


The shaft varies, the nesting cavity being often a foot or more below the entrance. Five to eight highly polished white eggs are laid upon wood dust and chips in the latter half of May, and a single brood is the rule. Both birds help to incubate. Occasionally an old or natural hollow is used or enlarged.

Calls and Songs

Its note is a repeated `keek`, loud for so small a bird, and its vibrating rattle can with experience be distinguished from that of the larger species.