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Species Guide
A photo of a Middle Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocoptes medius), male
Middle Spotted Woodpecker, Male

Middle Spotted Woodpecker

Dendrocoptes medius

The middle spotted woodpecker, Dendrocoptes medius, is a charming bird of the woodpecker family, Picidae. Measuring 20–22 cm in length, it is adorned with a striking red crown, contrasting with its predominantly black upperparts, which feature white oval wing patches and white barring on the wings. The underparts are a clean white, while the vent is a delicate pink, and the flanks are marked with dark streaks. This species lacks the black moustachial stripe seen in the great spotted woodpecker and has a more rounded, pale head with a short, slender bill.

Identification Tips

When identifying the middle spotted woodpecker, look for its red crown, which is a key distinguishing feature. The absence of a black moustachial stripe and the presence of a pink vent are also indicative. Its bill is shorter and more slender than that of the great spotted woodpecker, and it lacks the narrow black sides on the red crown that are characteristic of the Syrian woodpecker.


This woodpecker favors deciduous forests, particularly those with ancient oaks, hornbeams, and elms. It thrives in landscapes that offer a mosaic of clearings, pastures, and dense woodlands.


The middle spotted woodpecker is a European species, found from northern Spain and France, stretching east to Poland and Ukraine, and southward to central Italy, the Balkans, Lithuania, Latvia, Turkey, the Caucasus, and Iran. Notably sedentary, it has not been recorded in the British Isles.


This woodpecker is known for its active foraging high in the treetops, making it somewhat elusive to observers. It is not typically heard drumming, as it does not use this behavior for territorial purposes. Instead, it asserts its territory through its distinctive song.

Song & Calls

The middle spotted woodpecker's song is a slow, nasal series of "gvayk" notes. Its calls include a rapid "kik kekekekek," which can be heard echoing through its preferred forest habitats.


During the breeding season, the middle spotted woodpecker carves out a nest hole approximately 5 cm wide in a decaying tree trunk or thick branch. It lays a clutch of four to seven eggs, which are incubated for a period of 11–14 days.

Diet and Feeding

The diet of the middle spotted woodpecker consists predominantly of insects and their larvae, which it skillfully picks from branches and twigs. It also partakes in tree sap but does not typically hack beneath the bark to find food.

Conservation status

The IUCN Red List classifies the middle spotted woodpecker as Least Concern, indicating that, at present, there are no immediate threats to its population numbers on a global scale.

Middle Spotted Woodpecker Sounds

Recorded by: © 
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Middle Spotted Woodpeckers on Birda


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