Thursday, 5 January 2012

Twelve Drummers Drumming

It's definitely not spring yet (I've only just change the background picture on the Blog for winter!) but soon Great Spotted Woodpeckers will be heard drumming away in forests and woodland all over the UK. It's amazing how diverse nature's musicians are.

These birds have a range of calls and when looking for a mate they use hollow trees as drums and peck away creating a distinctive drumming sound. You can listen to examples of this here and here. These birds eat insects, nuts and seeds and will make holes by pecking into trees to get at insects under the bark. This also makes a drumming sound although slower and more like a hammer than their calls for a mate.

Great Spotted Woodpeckers have been known to peck at timber houses for food as well as occasionally eating other birds eggs. To help them when clinging to trees woodpeckers have two toes facing forwards and two facing backwards, this gives a secure grip when hopping about in high branches.

There are four species of woodpecker in the UK and the Great Spotter Woodpecker is the most common. The best way to differentiate it from the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker is that the Great Spotted have a red flush of colour underneath the tail which none of the other UK species have. It is easy to differentiate from the Green Woodpecker (the other common breeding UK species) as the Greater and Lesser Spotted species are both black, white and red, not green!

So, here ends my Twelve Days of Christmas blogs. I hope you've enjoyed them. Tomorrow we'll be back to my everyday green adventures in the Preston area with recycling after Christmas, finally fixing my bike (?) and getting involved in more local and not-so-local environmental projects and activities. Happy New Year everyone!

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