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Lesser spotted woodpecker (Dendrocopos minor)

The smallest and rarest woodpecker in the UK, the lesser spotted is often in the tree tops, so is tough to catch a glimpse of.

Common name: lesser spotted woodpecker

Scientific name: Dendrocopos minor

Family: Picidae (wrynecks and woodpeckers)


Head: the male has a red crown, and the female has an off white crown. Black feathers border the crown patch, cheeks are an off white and black facial markings are visible.

Wings: black and white striped pattern.

Body: black and white striped pattern visible on the upper body and the underparts are a dirty white with dark markings.

Where to spot

It can be seen in England and Wales but are absent from Ireland and Scotland. It is found in deciduous woodland, orchard, parkland and even gardens.


Insects, such as beetle larvae and moths. It uses its strong bill to peck away surfaces then uses its tongue to get the insect prey.


A clutch of four to six eggs is laid when the woodpeckers breed, which begins in April. The nest is a hole in a tree, created by both the adult birds. Chicks will fledge around 19 to 22 days old.


  • A secretive bird it frequents tree tops where it is not easily visible.
  • The lesser spotted woodpecker is similar in size to a sparrow and its size is a key feature which distinguishes it from the great spotted woodpecker, which is around the same size as a blackbird. Other features which identify the lesser spotted woodpecker is its lack of red plumage beneath its tail.
  • This species of woodpecker is not commonly seen and is on the UK Red List for birds.