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We were thrilled to recently spot our only native woodpecker, The Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos major.


This once native fascinating bird was absent from the Irish countryside for hundreds of years, but recently has recolonized parts of the east coast, and is expanding its territory. It is an exciting and welcome return and a wonderful addition to the list of native Irish wildlife. 

Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos major 

( Adult Male)

Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos major Adult Male

Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos major 

( Adult Female)

Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos major Adult Female

Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos major 


Juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos major
Woodpecker Nesting Hole
Woodpecker nestbox at Wildacres


It was first sighted about 10 years ago in Wicklow, at Glen of the Downs Nature Reserve having most likely flown across the Irish Sea from neighbouring Wales. The reason for its arrival is thought to have been as a result of territory expansion with it looking for new territories to colonize. 

We have it seems a breeding pair at Wildacres and both the male (with the defining red patch on the back of his neck) and the female, can regularly be seen around the peanut feeders and calling and flitting from tree to tree. Also we were thrilled to see recently, as the picture above, a juvenile at the bird feeder.



We have put up special woodpecker nestboxes at a few locations to give them further nesting options. Though there are a number of stands of trees that would be suitable for them with regard old decaying trunks and tree limbs.

We hope to see lots more of them in the years ahead as they settle in to their new territory, and to hear that distinctive drumming sound heralding the arrival of spring. 

Woodpecker Feeding Holes
Woodpecker nesting hole

Their diet is mainly insect larvae they extract from deadwood  (this demonstrates the importance of freestanding deadwood as well as fallen deadwood, as an important habitat for all manner of lifeforms and the animals in turn that feed on them) seeds from pinecones and occasionally birds eggs and young chicks. 

To hear that drumming sound that the male makes in spring. Pecking with his thick chisel like beak in a rapid fire motion on a tree trunk or branch when trying to attract a mate, or choosing and excavating a new nest site is a wonderful and joyous sound. 


A sound of nature returning to Wildacres.