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Top Tips On Photographing The White-Backed Woodpecker

Eschenbach share some top tips for photographing the white-backed woodpecker.

| Animals / Wildlife

Top Tips On Photographing The White-Backed Woodpecker: white backed woodpecker

The white-backed woodpecker hides in the oldest and deepest forests where it can easily find dead and decaying wood.


At first sight, the white-backed woodpecker can be confused by untrained observers with the great spotted woodpecker, as well as with the Syrian woodpecker. It is slightly larger than the great spotted woodpecker with a length of 25 to 28 centimeters.

The upper back is completely black while the lower back is white. When the bird is not flying, the white bars on its black wings are clearly visible.

Like many woodpecker species, its rump has a red tint. Chest and belly are cream coloured and bear black longitudinal stripes. Males have a red crown and females have a shiny black one.



One won’t find the white-backed woodpecker at the local birdhouse for it is one the rarest black and white woodpecker species. Its distribution area is a long band that stretches from Scandinavia through Eastern Europe to Japan and Kamchatka. It is quite common in the Czech Republic, the central mountains of Slovakia and the Carpathians, the Eastern Alps and the Pyrenees. A smaller stock breeds in the Austrian Karwendel Park.

The white-backed woodpecker enjoys old deciduous and mixed forests with lots of dead wood and likes to stay close to water.


Behavior and breeding

The main cause of the white-backed woodpecker population decline is intensive forestry management. It needs dead and damaged wood, because its food lives under the bark of decaying trees. This mainly includes caterpillars, beetles, and their larvae. To reach them, it hacks at the soft wood with his powerful beak.

White-backed woodpeckers also need dead trees for their sleeping and breeding caves. With their robust beaks, they could also work on hardwood but it is unnecessarily difficult. The breeding season starts in the middle of April and lasts until the beginning of June. The courtship, on the other hand, begins in the winter, because woodpeckers can take a long time to find a pair. It consists of drumming, display flight and pursuing each other. Once the female enters the male’s cave, the couple is successfully formed.

The female lays 3 to 5 eggs in the breeding cavity. Both parents incubate them for 13 to 16 days before the young hatch. After a short month, they are able to fly and leave the nest.

White-backed woodpeckers are not particularly good flyers. They bounce forward with both legs when they are on the ground. They also use their tail as a support when hammering a tree trunk.

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