Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Special birds: Black Woodpecker

Black Woodpecker Dryocopus martius is Europe's largest woodpecker at some 45-47 cm from beak to tail-tip and with a wing-span of around 70cm: that is twice the size of a Great Spotted Woodpecker and almost a big as a Rook! Though it does not occur on the British Isles it is fairly widespread and common, in the right habitat, over the continent, especially in Eastern Europe. "Right habitat" means different things in different areas, but in general it equates to mature natural, semi-natural and man-made forests from sea-level to over 2000m above sea-level. Open forests are favoured and there must be some stands of large trees where nesting holes can be excavated. In the last few decades Black Woodpeckers have increased in range across Eastern Europe (and indeed elsewhere) occupying lowlands where they were previously very rare or even absent.

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