Great spotted woodpeckers nesting in Ireland?

This is a French video about a young great spotted woodpecker leaving the nest.

From Wildlife Extra:

Have Great Spotted woodpeckers colonised Ireland?

26/11/2008 14:26:35

Great Spotted Woodpeckers, until now absent from Ireland, have recently begun turning up in many parts of the country and remaining for extended periods. Are they temporary visitors or could they be here to stay?

November 2008. Ireland is one of the only countries in Europe to have no resident woodpeckers. Britain has three species. In some years, a so-called irruption of Great Spotted Woodpeckers – the commonest species on the Continent – takes place. This is brought about by the periodic failure of the pine cone crop – a major source of winter food – in Northern Europe and large numbers of the birds are driven out of Scandinavia to spend the winter further south. In such years, Ireland might be lucky to record the occasional bird, but rarely more than four or five birds and most years, none at all. And any that have turned up, predictably disappeared by March.

However, it is evident that over the last two years or so, a major change is underway. A number of these handsome black and white woodpeckers have not only been heard “drumming” in several woodland locations during spring, but they have lingered on into the breeding season. Drumming is the loud, rapid-fire tapping created by the bird beating its bill off a dead branch – the sound carries some distance and it is a woodpecker’s way of claiming territory and it is one of the best ways to locate them in a wood. Although a striking and noisy bird, it can be remarkably secretive too, especially when the trees come into leaf. Unfortunately, no nests were found, so breeding could not be proved in 2008.


However, in July, one lucky household in south Co. Dublin made a remarkable discovery – a juvenile, only a few weeks old and identifiable by its red crown, suddenly appeared on the peanut feeder. This exciting find was quickly followed by up to three more juveniles at feeders in various parts of Co. Wicklow and then others in Meath and Louth. This strongly suggests that an historic event is taking place – Great Spotted Woodpeckers have started to breed in Ireland. Could climate change have played a role in this, or are their other factors at play?

Birdwatch Ireland are very keen to monitor the progress of this species’ colonisation of Ireland and would ask anyone who hears or sees one to contact them by e-mail (, by post to BirdWatch Ireland, P.O. Box 12 Greystones, Co. Wicklow or by phoning 01-2189878, giving details of location, dates and if possible the sex of the bird. Females have a black and white head, males are similar but have a red spot on the back of the head and juveniles have a totally red crown (although these will have moulted into adult plumage by now).

Great spotted woodpeckers confirmed breeding in Ireland for the first time: here.

Great spotted woodpeckers colonising Ireland: here.

1 thought on “Great spotted woodpeckers nesting in Ireland?

  1. Pingback: Saving English lowland heath wildlife | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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