Birda Logo
Species Guide
A photo of a Black Woodpecker (Dryocopus martius), male
Black Woodpecker, Male

Black Woodpecker

Dryocopus martius

The black woodpecker (Dryocopus martius), a striking avian species, is the largest woodpecker in Europe and parts of Asia. With a body length ranging from 45 to 55 cm and a wingspan of 64 to 84 cm, it is a bird of considerable size. The species is characterized by its entirely black plumage, save for the red crown which is fully red in males and only partially so in females. Juveniles are less glossy with a duller red crown and a paler grey throat and bill.

Identification Tips

To identify the black woodpecker, look for its crow-sized stature and entirely black plumage contrasted with a vivid red crown. Males have a completely red crown, while females have a red patch only on the top hindcrown. The species also has piercing yellow eyes. Its flight pattern is distinctive, lacking the undulating motion common in other woodpeckers, and instead featuring slow, deliberate wing beats with the head held high.


The black woodpecker favors mature forests, showing a preference for old-growth or large forest stands. It is a non-migratory bird that thrives in coniferous, tropical, subtropical, and boreal forests, from lowlands to elevations of up to 2,400 meters.


This woodpecker's range extends from Spain across Europe, excluding the British Isles and northern Scandinavia, and into parts of Asia, including Korea, Japan, and China. Its distribution is more sporadic in Asia, and it is notably absent from the British Isles.


The black woodpecker is known for excavating large tree holes for nesting, which subsequently become habitats for various other species. It feeds primarily on carpenter ants and wood-boring beetle grubs, using its powerful bill to hammer into dead trees. The species plays a crucial role in forest ecosystems, both as a keystone species providing homes for others and as a regulator of wood-boring insect populations.

Song & Calls

The black woodpecker's vocalizations include a high-pitched, whistling "kree-kree-kree" call, typically uttered twice in succession, and a shrill screech emitted during flight.


Breeding involves the excavation of a nesting chamber within a tree, often one affected by fungal disease. The female lays a clutch of two to eight eggs, with both parents sharing incubation and chick-rearing responsibilities. The young fledge after 18 to 35 days, remaining with the adults for an additional week.

Similar Species

The black woodpecker is similar in ecological niche to the pileated woodpecker of North America and the lineated woodpecker of South America. It also shares its range with the white-bellied woodpecker in Asia, though the latter is distributed further south.

Diet and Feeding

The diet of the black woodpecker is predominantly composed of carpenter ants and wood-boring beetle grubs, which it extracts from within trees using its robust bill and neck muscles.

Conservation Status

The black woodpecker is classified as Least Concern by the IUCN. While it has faced challenges due to deforestation, conservation efforts and forest restoration have led to population increases in some areas. However, it can sometimes be considered a nuisance due to damage to human structures and may face threats from predation and habitat loss.

Black Woodpecker Sounds

Recorded by: © 
App logo
Birda is a birdwatching app and community aimed at curious people who want to deepen their connection with nature.

Black Woodpeckers on Birda


More Woodpeckers

A photo of a Bay Woodpecker (Blythipicus pyrrhotis) , male

Bay Woodpecker

Blythipicus pyrrhotis
Birda Logo

Your birdwatching journey like never before

Connect with nature in minutes
Take a walk, look out of the window and log the birds that you see. Feel good about those little connections to nature.
Discover the joy of birding
Find new birding spots, see more birds, share and celebrate with a like-minded community of nature lovers.
Play your part in saving nature
Logging your birding sightings and sessions turns into positive action for our planet. Every sighting counts.

Birda Blog

What Our Birders Say
Talli A
My favourite app
As a young birdwatcher who was always keen to be apart of a community but never seemed to find one, my problem was solved downloading this!!! Everyone is so friendly and just as excited to see birds as me 😁
Simply fantastic
I love this app, it puts so much fun into recording the birds I’ve seen and heard while I’m out and about. The interface is user-friendly and suitable for all ages. It’s great to collect badges and to review my “lists”.
Fantastic app - Love it!
Love this app and have used it almost daily. Lots of species information and easy to use. Love seeing birds spotted by other users in the UK and worldwide.
Alice J
Awesome Birding Community
I absolutely love the community aspect of this app. The app is so user friendly and has fun interactive challenges to get you out birding. I’ve tried others but since I’ve started using Birda I’ve not gone back!
Alex J
Friendly and helps to identify birds
Great birding app, good for logging your sightings, also has nice species guide. I'm enjoying the social aspect more than I expected, everyone seems friendly and helps to identify unknown birds. Good mix of newbies and experienced users.
Erna M
I really like Birda
I really like Birda. I also use other birding apps and have Birda with E-bird going at the same time.
Gets me outdoors more
I'm still loving this app. I use it most days & gets me outdoors more. Enjoying watching others progress and photo's, it's improved my wellbeing.... I love this app! I can keep a record of sightings and see what others have seen too.
Really great app
It’s easy to use and it’s fun to log the birds you notice on a walk or just in your garden. There’s a option to record the birds you see in a session which is really nice. Good excuse to stop for a while and just watch birds. I am also enjoying the information part where you can find out fact about birds from all over the world.
Great app for learning Birds
I’ve been using the app for a couple of months and love it....Someone said it’s like a real life Pokémon Go for birds. They’re not far off! It’s something that the family can do that gets you out and about. Well worth downloading no matter your age.
David C
Very knowledgeable group
Nice friendly birding community. Very knowledgeable group with a willingness to help.
As featured in
Birda Logo
AboutPressAmbassadorsAffiliatesInfluencersCareersPrivacyTerms & Conditions
An app for birdwatchers
Connect with us
Copyright © 2024 Chirp Birding. All rights reserved.