Lesser spotted woodpecker

Lesser spotted woodpecker

©Stefan Johansson

Lesser spotted woodpecker

Scientific name: Dryobates minor
The lesser spotted woodpecker is the smallest of the UK's woodpeckers. Listen out for its drumming, which is quieter than that of the great spotted woodpecker, in woodland, parks , orchards and gardens.

Species information


Length: 14cm
Wingspan: 26cm
Weight: 21g
Average lifespan: 6 years

Conservation status

Classified in the UK as Red under the Birds of Conservation Concern 4: the Red List for Birds (2021). Priority Species under the UK Post-2010 Biodiversity Framework.

When to see

January to December


The lesser spotted woodpecker is the smallest and least common of the UK's three species of woodpecker. It is most often found in the tops of trees where it creeps along branches in search of insects. Its 'drumming' is much quieter and less vigorous than that of the Great Spotted Woodpecker; its presence is often only given away by this or their call.

How to identify

The lesser spotted woodpecker is small in size, being not much bigger than a house sparrow. Males are black and white, with a red crown cap, and females are plain black and white. They both have a distinctive white ladder marking down their black back.


Found in England, but rare in the north. Absent from Scotland and Ireland.

Did you know?

There are now believed to be less than 3,000 pairs breeding annually in the UK compared to nearly 45,000 greater spotted woodpeckers

How people can help

The Wildlife Trusts manage many woodland nature reserves for the benefit of the wildlife they support. You can help by supporting your local Trust and becoming a member; you'll find out about exciting wildlife news, events on your doorstep and volunteering opportunities, and will be helping local wildlife along the way.