The Second Ladybird Book of British Birds #12 – The Great Spotted Woodpecker

This handsome bird lives on the edges of woods, in orchards and large gardens.

That’s what The Second Ladybird Book of British Birds and their nests says:

The Second Ladybird Book of British Birds - The Great Spotted Woodpecker

Here I am on the edge of a wood and there’s a Great Spotted Woodpecker staring at me:

Great Spotted Woodpecker - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

This one is a female, without the red feathers on its head:

Great Spotted Woodpecker - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

I’m lucky to see them reasonably frequently coming to feeders in woodland.

This is the bird that “drums” by hitting a dead branch very rapidly with its beak, a sound which can be heard half-a-mile away on a still day.

Given the way they drum on wood in an energetic ‘eyeballs out’ kind of way, I wondered why their eyeballs didn’t actually fall out:

Eyelids like seat belts

Its food is nearly all insects harmful to trees, so the Great Spotted Woodpecker is a very useful bird, although it will sometimes eat the eggs of the other birds.

Again we have this obsession with usefulness which betrays the values of the author; I think Great Spotted Woodpeckers have an intrinsic value which has nothing to do with either their usefulness or their beauty. They are living things and part of the complex ecosystem of their environment. They deserve our respect.

This one is definitely suspicious:

You've been Spotted - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

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