Great Spotted Woodpecker
Drumming Sounds & Calls

Great Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major)

Great Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major)
Photo credit: Dilomski /

The Great Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major) is a medium-sized species of woodpecker found throughout Europe, north Asia and in a few parts of coastal north-western Africa. Great Spotted Woodpeckers inhabit a variety of habitats including woodland, broadleaf forest, coniferous forest and even in urban parks and gardens.

The typical call of this species is a single, sharp ‘kik’ or ‘kek’, sometimes given as a rapid series. There is also a longer chattering, rattling ‘krrakkaarr’ call.

Like most other species of woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpeckers often communicate by ‘drumming’ – rapidly pecking / hammering on a tree trunk or other resonant object to create a pattern of sound. As well as their vocal calls, each species of woodpecker has a unique tempo, length, and rhythm to its drumming pattern. Drumming is used by woodpeckers to attract a mate and/or advertise a territory. The ‘drum’ of the Great Spotted Woodpecker is heard most frequently in spring and is usually a short, slightly accelerating series delivered in less than a second, with the individual strikes being very fast and difficult to separate.

Each of the sounds described above can be heard in the video below.