Lesser Spotted Woodpecker

The lesser spotted woodpecker is endangered in Finland but found amongst the birds that nest at Myllylähde. It is a sparrow-sized, light-coloured woodpecker with black and white crosswise markings on the back. The male has a red cap and the female’s is black. It is found throughout the country but is not found in abundance anywhere. It is endangered because of a decline in appropriate habitat, in particular decaying beach alder; its favoured nesting places are in beach alders and lush groves with plenty of small decaying trees.


The lesser spotted woodpecker

The lesser spotted woodpecker generally seeks food found in the decaying hardwood trees in which they also nest. The nest is built with master craftsmanship precision because the species nests for nearly two months. They also use nests for more than just nesting as they usually overnight in old nesting places. At the end of March, the male starts its courtship display and vehemently hammers on a dry branch or the metal of telephone pole. And he defines his nesting territory with loud, high-pitched chirruping. Despite the size of the species, its nesting territory is larger than that of the great spotted woodpecker. The female lays 4 to 8 eggs in May and like other woodpeckers the male takes care of feeding the young until around midsummer.

In the autumn young lesser spotted woodpeckers look for new nesting areas and have to travel kilometres in the winter to find enough suitable decaying trees for nutrition. The winter diet almost exclusively consists of larvae and beetles found under bark during winter. It will also visit birdtables if tallow is offered. Some of the smallest will also feed in reeds, where they look for insects wintering inside the stems.

Photo: Jyrki Oja