The great spotted woodpecker is about 23 cm tall. Its wingspan is between 34 and 39 cm. It weighs between 60 and 90 grams. Its plumage is black on top with two large white wing spots and yellowish-grey underneath. The undertail coverts are a vivid red. Only the male has a red nape patch and juveniles have a red crest. The cheeks are white, the part above the beak rather grey. There are black stripes on the sides of the neck.
Great spotted woodpeckers have pointed, curved talons on their climbing feet, which they use to hold on to the bark. Two talons point forwards and two point backwards. Their skin is unusually thick, which protects them from insect bites. A flexible, joint-like connection between the broad base of the beak and the skull absorbs the vibrations that occur when carving the woodpecker's cavity. The upright and stable posture on the tree is supported by strong muscles that control the supporting tail feathers. To prevent inhalation of the resulting wood flour, the nostrils of the great spotted woodpecker are covered with fine feathers.
Visually similar and therefore easily confused with the great spotted woodpecker in Central Europe are the middle spotted woodpecker, the lesser spotted woodpecker, the white-backed woodpecker and the syrian woodpecker, but all of them occur much less frequently in Austria.
The great spotted woodpecker is the least specialized native woodpecker species and therefore the most common. It can be found in both deciduous and coniferous forests, but also in parks and in cultivated landscapes, provided there are avenues, shelterbelts or small groups of trees. Mixed oak and beech forests with a lot of old and dead wood are optimal habitats for it. Monotonous pure spruce stands have only low woodpecker abundance.
The text is a translation of an excerpt from Wikipedia (https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buntspecht). On wikipedia the text is available under a „Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike“licence. licence. Status: 17 December 2021