Body length: 21-25 cm
Wingspan: 35-40 cm
Body mass: 75-95 g
Appearance: one of several black-white-and-red woodpeckers, but with black rump. Males have red patch at back of head, female an all-black cap, and juveniles a full red cap.
Poland’s most abundant woodpecker, inhabiting all kinds of forest, as well as parks and orchards. Bill so strong that hard, unrotted wood of conifers and broadleaves is excavated, though aspen and alder apparently preferred. Pairs make a new hole each year, the male doing most of the work in territory defended by regular drumming (with high-quality reverberation achieved by careful selection of dry wood-knots or branches). Urban birds may drum on metal gutters and street-lamps! Diet consists of larvae removed from wood, but also ants, caterpillars, buds of spruce and pine, nuts and sometimes also nestlings of smaller bird species, nectar and small fruits.
Bears superficial resemblance to much-rarer white-backed woodpecker.
Descriptions drawing on content of Ptaki Polski (“Birds of Poland”) - a book authored by Andrzej G. Kruszewicz, and published by MULTICO Oficyna Wydawnicza Sp. z o.o.