Great spotted woodpecker (male) perched on a cocunut shell filled with fat and seeds hung on a garden feeder.
Male Great Spotted Woodpecker at garden feeding station by Janice Gill

Great Spotted Woodpecker UK

Male, female, and young identifiers

Gardening, Birding, and Outdoor Adventure
2 min readNov 24, 2023


I was first aware there were woodpeckers in our area when I heard a strange metallic, loud tapping noise. It was intermittent but occurred frequently.

Eventually, While in the garden, I spotted the source of the noise on a TV aerial. A woodpecker was calling for a mate on something louder than his usual tree.

Not long after, the woodpecker graced the feeding station in our garden. It’s a great spotted woodpecker, of which there are about 1/4 million in the UK.

Great Spotted Woodpeckers are very striking birds with their black and white plumage with bright red underbelly. They measure about 22cm, similar in size to our blackbirds.

Great Spotted Woodpecker (female) perched on coconut shell filled with fat and seeds..
Female Great Spotted Woodpecker at garden feeding station, photo by Janice Gill

He was successful using his unconventional drum as a few days later a female was also spotted at the feeder.

The male is distinguished from the female by the bright red spot at the nape of the neck, just visible in the top photo.

The young have a red crown, as seen in the photo below. I suspect this one is a male, as there is a second patch starting to form at the back of the head.



Janice Gill
Gardening, Birding, and Outdoor Adventure

Award winning Artist and Photographer still learning and evolving. Blogging the journey.