On the fringes of the ridge area woodpecker nests are common, although most are great spotted woodpecker nests. However, there are some are black woodpecker nests and perhaps even grey-headed and lesser spotted woodpecker nests will be found. . Dozens of nests are sometimes built in the same aspen or common alder and often over several decades.
Woodpeckers select nesting places in areas where there are suitable decaying trees. However not every tree trunk will do for a woodpecker’s nesting place. They carefully find the centre of a rotten area in a tree by listening to the sound the wood makes when they hammer it. They prefer deciduous trees and because of its soft wood, aspen is the most popular nesting tree; the black, grey-headed and greater spotted woodpecker gladly hammer out nests in aspen. The distance of the nest to the ground depends on how the different tree species rot. Birch and aspen suffer from wood-decaying fungus climbing very high, so the black woodpecker builds its nest as high as possible.
The black woodpecker is the most powerful of the family and will also hammer nests in healthy pine. Hollowing out a nest will last two weeks. The building begins in March and the tree will take even a hundred hits a minute with both male and female sharing the duty in turn.
The great spotted woodpecker will build for at least eight days and in their courtship, both will hollow out their own nest and in the following years they may even enlarge the nest.
In contrast, the lesser spotted woodpecker hollows out their nest very slowly – for at least 53 days. The building is closely related to the courtship, as it begins well before the female arrives in the area. But a repeat nest building will be very fast, up to 7 days.
Woodpeckers will normally create a new nest every year, provided that there are suitable trees on offer. This helps the needs of other creatures that nest in trees. Unfortunately, modern forests are so well tended that finding a suitable tree for woodpeckers is difficult. In particular, black woodpeckers find it difficult to find a sufficiently thick tree trunk.
Photos: Markus Varesvuo
Above right: lesser spotted woodpecker.