Flora and fauna
in forest park Háj-Nicovô

Great spotted woodpecker

Dendrocopos major

Great spotted woodpecker

Out of the woodpeckers living in our country, this is a relatively common species. In Slovakia, it is found in forests from the lowlands to the upper forest borders. It can also be found in parks and gardens.

The woodpecker is characterized by its black and white body and red bottomed tail. It has large white spots on the shoulder blades. The male has a red spot on its head, while the female does not. Whilst in flight, we can recognize it by the way it moves in waves.

It climbs trees well thanks to its strong legs, having two toes at the front, two at the back, and a strong tail.
It is known for its swift pecking into the bark of trees, with its perfectly adjusted beak. It pecks most intensively in spring, before nesting, to mark its territory. For that, the woodpecker looks for a dry branch or a tree trunk. During nesting, it lives in a pair, while for rest of the year alone. It nests in tree hollows, carved by itself. Carving hollows is also beneficial for other species that are unable to make their own.

Popularly, we also call the woodpecker a “tree doctor”. It feeds on insects under the bark, by pulling them out with its long sticky tongue with hooks on the tip. Besides insects, it enjoys also seeds and fruits, getting them sometimes also from garden feeders.

Do you know?
Woodpeckers are the only bird species that can carve into hard trees. Scientists have proven that when pecking, they move their head at a speed of up to 6 meters per second, exceeding the force of gravity more than a thousand times, while their brain remains undamaged. How is it possible? They have a long brain in a vertical position, so the load can be distributed better. There is also very little free space between their brain and skull, preventing it from damage. Their special tongue acts as a protective cover and the bones around the brain have a spongy structure, functioning as a shield.

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