Black woodpecker

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Black woodpecker
Black woodpecker ♂ (Dryocopus martius)

Black woodpecker ♂ ( Dryocopus martius )

Class : Birds (aves)
Order : Woodpecker birds (Piciformes)
Family : Woodpeckers (Picidae)
Subfamily : Real woodpeckers (Picinae)
Genre : Dryocopus
Type : Black woodpecker
Scientific name
Dryocopus martius
( Linnaeus , 1758)

The black woodpecker ( Dryocopus martius ) is a member of the genus Dryocopus within the subfamily of the real woodpeckers (Picinae). The bird, which is unmistakable in Central Europe due to its predominantly black coloring and red crowning, is about the size of a crow and by far the largest European woodpecker. The species occurs in two subspecies in much of the northern and central Palearctic .

In summer, the black woodpecker feeds primarily on wood-dwelling ants , whose nests it also exposes in large trunks; anthills are also exploited in winter. It is an important supplier of caves for numerous animal species that rely on larger tree hollows. In Central Europe, the breeding caves are mainly created in older, thick and tall beech trees. Due to forest restructuring, the black woodpecker was able to expand its breeding area in Europe significantly to the west and north in the course of the 20th century. In Western Europe, this area expansion continues. In Central Europe it is a widespread and regionally frequent breeding bird that colonizes even fragmented and small-scale forests.


The black woodpecker is almost unmistakable due to its size and its plumage, which is black except for the red apex markings. It is almost the size of a rook , but is slimmer and significantly longer-tailed than this. Apart from the top of the head, the woodpecker looks uniformly black. When viewed up close in good light, small differences in shade are noticeable. The upper side is darker and shinier, the plumage can shimmer bluish. The underside is a little more matt, usually a bit lighter, with a slight shade of dark gray or black-brown. Worn plumage is uniformly matt charcoal in color. The wings of the hand are often a little lighter and a bit browner than the rest of the upper plumage. In the seated woodpecker, the long, black, clearly divided support tail is noticeable. The wide at the base Schnabel, about 5-6 centimeters long beak is grayish white with a distinct dark gray top. The iris of adult woodpeckers looks white from a distance, but up close it is light cream in color. The toes are light gray, the long claws a little darker. As with most four-toed woodpeckers, the toe arrangement is zygodactyl . So there are two toes pointing forwards and two backwards, with the third toe pointing forward being longer than the fourth toe pointing backwards.

Females are, on average, somewhat smaller and lighter than males, but this difference cannot be used in field ornithological terms. The only clear distinguishing feature is the red markings on the vertex, which in the adult male begins above the base of the beak and - tapering - almost reaches the nape of the neck, while in the female it only covers the occiput to the nape of the neck. If the observation conditions are very good, it can be seen that the female plumage appears somewhat paler and less shiny overall.

Male young woodpecker

Juvenile black woodpeckers are also easy to identify. Their plumage, which is also black, is noticeably lighter, especially the control feathers are more dark gray-brown than black. The young woodpecker's beak is ivory and the iris is black. The red headstock has almost the same dimensions as adults, but the red is rather flesh-colored, matt. At the end of their first year of life, black woodpeckers are colored and can no longer be distinguished from older woodpeckers.

Biometric data

Black woodpeckers of the nominate form Dryocopus martius martius reach a body length of up to 57 centimeters, the wingspan is about 70 centimeters. The subspecies Dryocopus martius khamensis is slightly more long-winged with the same body length. The weight fluctuates between 260 and 340 grams, depending on the nutritional status, high Nordic birds are on average somewhat larger and heavier. Apart from the probably extinct species of the emperor woodpecker ( Campephilus imperialis ) and ivory woodpecker ( Campephilus principalis ), the black woodpecker is the second largest recent species of woodpecker after the East Asian powder woodpecker ( Mulleripicus pulverulentus ) .


The juvenile moult sets in soon after the flight and lasts about 100 days. In it, the small plumage , the large arm covers and the arm feathers with umbrella feathers, the control feathers and, to varying degrees, the hand feathers are changed. This partial moult is usually completed in October. The annual moult is a full moult. It begins after the boys have fledged, usually during their leadership time, and ends with the growth of the hand wings between mid-September and early October. The two central control springs, which are essential for the support, only fail when the outer ones have completely grown back, so that the support function is at least partially retained. Like almost all other real woodpeckers, black woodpeckers do not molt praenuptially (pre-breeding season). Fright moult was occasionally observed.

Voice and instrumental sounds

Black woodpeckers are usually quite conspicuous birds acoustically, although, as is quite common with woodpeckers, there can be great individual differences in acoustic presence. The two most frequently heard calls are the flight call, which can be easily transcribed with krrü… krrü… krrü, and the drawn-out, sloping, plaintive-looking Klieeh or Kliööh , which is mostly used as a location and presence call . Both calls are far-reaching and can be heard for a good one kilometer, and can be heard over long distances almost throughout the year with the exception of the late breeding and feeding seasons. The location call is also used in the event of malfunctions; in the event of greater excitement, the call is sequenced at intervals of a few seconds. Interrupted, somewhat hoarse-sounding modifications of this call, which sound like klikje , indicate a conflict situation. Only during courtship and early breeding season can the actual, sexually motivated stanza be heard, which also serves to demarcate and maintain territory. This high, metallic sounding series of sounds consists of up to 20 individual elements, the first element is usually slightly separated. It can best be described as kwoih… kwihkwihkwihkwi… . In addition, both sexes have a number of quieter, sometimes guttural sounding sounds that the highest sexual excitement to a low, mewling Kia are being lined up faster and faster, until it comes to the copula. A call that can usually only be heard during intra-species disputes is the rather quiet Rürr , which is also used, for example, during brood replacement and indicates the latent aggressiveness of the breeding partners, the drawn out Rüürrrr is possibly a soothing answer.

In addition to the courtship call and the drawn-out location call, the drumming serves the territorial positioning, establishing contact and strengthening the partnership. The drum rolls consist of up to 60 individual beats, so with an average frequency of 17 beats per second, they can last over three seconds. Both sexes drum, but females less often and usually more slowly, shorter and quieter. In contrast to the females, males prefer a main drum tree, which can often be more than a kilometer away from the nesting cavity or main sleeping cavity. In addition, different loud knocking can often be heard, especially in the courtship or breeding season, which is used on the one hand to show caves , but on the other hand also represents an act of jumping over in a conflict mood, for example after brood detachment or after detachment when building a cave.

In the video from the editorial team of Südwestrundfunk the following voices can be heard: The male's flight call - the male's voice of aggression during the transfer, followed by a few clicks ; after the excitation subsides, the location call. Hammering the female is a skipping act.


Distribution area of ​​the black woodpecker

The black woodpecker is distributed almost over the entire northern and central Palearctic except for the British Isles and Iceland. In south-western Europe, its breeding areas begin island-like in mountainous regions of northern Spain, continue over large parts of France, central and eastern Central Europe via the taiga belt to Kamchatka , Sakhalin , Hokkaidō and Nordhonshu . In Northern Europe Denmark, large parts of Norway, Sweden and Finland as well as the entire Baltic region are populated. In Scandinavia, black woodpecker populations reach the Arctic Circle . In southern and southeastern Europe the black woodpecker is only found in large areas of the Balkans, in Italy it is only found in the border regions to Austria, Switzerland and Slovenia, as well as in a small island in the southwest. With the exception of Kefalonia, this woodpecker species does not breed on any other Mediterranean island, after previously existing small populations in Sicily are no longer confirmed. However, the black woodpecker is represented on all larger Baltic Sea islands . In Asia Minor there are only a few breeding occurrences in the western part of the Pontic Mountains . The black woodpecker is more common in the Caucasus , Transcaucasus, as well as in the Iranian coastal regions of the Caspian Sea . In East Asia the nominate form breeds southwards to Shanxi , perhaps as far as the northern areas of Henan and Shaanxi and reaches the northern part of South Korea in the far east . Isolated from this largely closed breeding area, there are occurrences of the subspecies D. m. khamensis in western Kunlun , especially in northeastern Tibet and northwestern Sichuan .

The black woodpecker breeds in lowland forests as well as in wooded areas that are close to the tree line. In Central Europe, the highest nesting caves were found in Graubünden , in the Munt la Schera area , at over 2200 meters, birds of the nominate form breed in the Altai at over 3500 meters and those of the subspecies D. m. khamensis have been observed at an altitude of well over 4000 meters.


Adult black woodpeckers of both sexes are largely loyal to their place in their entire range and try to stay in the breeding area even in snowy winters. It is only when there is a severe food shortage that they usually only migrate over small areas. They pass into regions with less snow or move from higher areas to the valleys. It is unclear whether the northernmost breeding areas are regularly abandoned. Young birds dismigrieren usually only on a small scale within a radius of less than 50 kilometers, when a station establishment is possible in the area of the nursery site. In the opposite case, young birds can migrate over long distances of almost 500 kilometers, in exceptional cases up to 1,000 kilometers. Central European woodpeckers mainly migrate to the west or south-east.


The black woodpecker is an adaptable species of bird that is able to breed successfully in very different habitats. The optimal habitats of the species are probably submontane to montane beech forests , in which mainly spruce and fir trees are interspersed; there and in oak - pine- mixed forests the black woodpecker reaches its highest settlement density. In lower densities, however, black woodpeckers are found in almost every type of forest, as long as a certain proportion of coniferous wood is present, as free-standing, smooth-barked and tall-stemmed trees as possible, especially beeches, which allow nesting or sleeping caves to be created, and there is sufficient food. Important requisites of a good black woodpecker biotope are also decaying tree stumps, lying dead wood and trees infested by arthropods , but due to its very large scope of action, this woodpecker is also able to colonize largely well-tended commercial forests. Often times, the woody trees in which black woodpeckers breed are remarkably small and fragmented, although large, contiguous wooded areas are among the more preferred habitats. With sufficient tolerance, the species does not shy away from the immediate vicinity of human properties and occasionally breeds in large parks.

The tree composition of the black woodpecker habitats seems to be of secondary importance. The age structure of the populated forest areas is also very different. In Norway and in the taiga belt, the species breeds mainly in spruce and aspen forests , often on the edge of clearings or along rivers. In the Baltic States it is an inhabitant of loose pine forests and in Hungary, Spain and France it mainly inhabits mixed beech forests with a certain proportion of spruce. In pure deciduous forests, the black woodpecker only occurs in the course of its rapid western expansion in western France.

The settlement densities vary considerably. In optimal habitats the area size can be less than 100 hectares , for example 1.3 areas / 100 ha were found in the semi-natural deciduous forests of the Unterspreewald on an area of ​​13.3 km². Usually, however, the districts are significantly larger. Average Central European black woodpecker territories cover around 400 hectares; in suboptimal regions, territory sizes of more than 1000 hectares are by no means uncommon. Nesting caves in neighboring areas that are flown at the same time are usually more than a kilometer apart.


Female black woodpecker foraging for food

Black woodpeckers feed mostly on insects, mainly ants. The proportion of plant-based food is insignificant, but fruits and berries as well as conifer seeds are occasionally consumed. Large species such as imagines , pupae and larvae of horse ants ( Camponotus sp.), Wood ants ( Formica sp.), Garden ants ( Lasius sp.) And representatives of the knot ants , especially those of the genus Myrmica, predominate among the ant prey . Depending on the season, the ant prey can amount to over 90 percent of the total food; In summer wood-dwelling species predominate, while in winter ant hills are mainly exploited by Formica species. The nestling food also consists to a very high percentage of ants, especially of horse ants. Where these ants are not found, such as in Holland, other species become the main food, for example wood ants. In addition to ant food , various wood-dwelling beetles and their stages of development, such as bark beetles (Scolytinae) and longhorn beetles (Cerambycidae), are important nutritional components. The larvae of the wood wasp ( Urocerus gigas ) as well as various other insect species can become significant in mass occurrences . The remains of two-winged birds , butterflies , spiders and small snails are only found relatively rarely in the food analyzes. Only in exceptional cases do black woodpeckers seem to consume vertebrates such as newts or nestlings and eggs from other cave breeders. Occasionally, black woodpeckers look for ring spots from other woodpeckers or ring themselves in spring.

Food acquisition

Typical large, often rectangular tracks of the black woodpecker
Broken willow with black woodpecker gnawing tracks

During the spring, summer and early autumn, the black woodpecker lives mainly from species of ants that live in wood or dead wood, whose passages and nests are exposed with powerful blows. Typical chopping marks of the species have elongated, often rectangular outlines and can penetrate very deeply into the wood. The black woodpecker also loosens large areas of bark in order to get to the insects living underneath, sometimes looking for softwood (Salix species) in rivers over 500 m away. In late autumn and winter, the nests of Formica species ( wood ants ) are sought out, and he opens and exploits their piles. Occasionally, several black woodpeckers, sometimes together with green or gray woodpeckers, can be seen in a cluster . Black woodpeckers are able to open anthills even in severe frost and snow conditions of up to one meter.

Considerable amounts of cut wood chips can be found under the food trees. Here with a spruce ( Picea abies )


Activity, movement and comfort behavior

Like all woodpeckers, the black woodpecker is diurnal. The activity period roughly corresponds to a sunny day; Females slip into the sleeping cave on average a little later than males. The activity peaks are in the early morning and late afternoon. In between there is a relatively long rest and comfort break outside of the breeding season. In the first half of the morning courtship and sexual activities as well as cave construction or expansion are most intense. Black woodpeckers mostly spend the night in disused breeding caves; sometimes they also look for sleeping caves during the day in extremely bad weather. When resting and sleeping, the woodpeckers usually cling to the bottom of the entrance hole, the head is tucked under the shoulder plumage in the resting position.

Despite their somewhat clumsy flight style, black woodpeckers are skilful, fast and persistent fliers who do not shy away from flying longer distances over open water, as the occurrence of the species on almost all Baltic Sea islands shows. The flight is not arched as with many other woodpeckers, but largely straight, especially in cross- country flight , the flight curve only describes a clear arc just before the tree is set up . Especially in tight turns, the wing noises are considerable and can be heard up to 30 meters. The flapping movements are irregular: deeply drawn wing flaps alternate with flatter ones, in between there may be short gliding phases with wings spread out or laid flat. Despite their considerable size, black woodpeckers are very agile and can escape chasing enemies by changing direction abruptly.

The black woodpecker climbs in a straight line with legs apart; on branches it moves on top of them. Although black woodpeckers are often on the ground and close to the ground, they seem a bit clumsy here; Smaller changes of location are jumped with both legs, while larger ones are exposed.

Territorial and agonistic behavior

Similar to many other species of woodpecker, the boundaries of black woodpecker areas are not clearly defined. Areas can overlap over a relatively large area without disputes between the owners of the area. Black woodpecker territories are often partner territories in which males and females prefer different areas outside of the breeding season, but encounters do not trigger significant aggression, and abundant food resources are shared. During the courtship and breeding season, these sub-areas merge to form a core area, in which the area around the nesting cavity as well as particularly high-yielding foraging grounds and drum trees are defended from other species, sometimes also from other woodpeckers. Black woodpeckers flying into these areas are countered with a very diverse repertoire of gestures, shouts and threatening gestures, whereby it is noticeable that females react more aggressively to foreign females, but males attack unrelated males more intensely. The rival fights are very ritualized. The most important element is the reciprocal spiraling of the trunk of the opponents, which is accompanied by head stretching , head swinging and mock fencing . Males always turn so that the headstock is facing the rival. If these threatening gestures are not enough, actual hacking fights can take place after the ultimate kjack shouting.

The black woodpecker is surprisingly compliant with its cave competitors, despite its size and ability to defend itself. Nesting caves are already guarded in the pre-breeding phase, but are abandoned in the event of constant harassment, even for much smaller opponents. In montane areas, the black woodpecker loses many optimal breeding caves, especially in the rough owl , whose breeding start is significantly earlier than that of the black woodpecker. Only in the laying and breeding period is the nesting hole vehemently and usually successfully defended.

The black woodpecker tries to escape flight enemies, especially the hawk , by freezing and pressing closely against the trunk. If they are not surprised in their sleeping cave, adult birds can easily escape martens by flying up.

Breeding biology

Courtship and pairing

Black woodpeckers reach sexual maturity at the end of their first year of life. They have a monogamous seasonal marriage; Reparations of last year's breeding partners are common; outside the breeding season, a loose pair formation is often retained. The territories are mostly redefined in late autumn by drum sequences and kwih call series; the actual courtship begins at the end of January at the earliest, but usually not until March. In addition to the drum sequences and courtship calls, cave demonstrations and cave building are the most important pair-forming elements. When both partners work together in a cave, or when the female asks for copulation in a crouched, horizontal position, the pairing is complete.

Nest hole location and nest hole construction

Male black woodpecker at the nest hole. The lowest of the three blocking nestlings is a female - the sloping rain eaves at the lower edge of the entrance hole can also be seen very clearly

In Central Europe, most of the black woodpecker caves are built in red beeches that are as free-standing as possible, at least so exposed that a free approach and sufficient all-round visibility is guaranteed. Slopes and locations near water bodies are noticeably preferred. In addition to the beech, a number of other deciduous and coniferous trees, such as spruce , pine , fir or oak , poplar (in Northern Europe especially aspen ), ash and alder are possible as cave trees , but wherever they are available, Book preferred. The main reason given for the preference for this tree species is the high crown closure, the relative break resistance, which ensures long-term use of the cave, and the overgrowth of the entrance hole, which is rare in this tree species. A study in Baden-Württemberg found 185 in beech, 113 in fir trees, 52 in black pine , 28 in spruce and one in a sycamore , among 379 nesting holes . Usually the caves are created at considerable heights between 10 and 20 meters, black woodpecker caves are rarely found less than five meters. In addition to the age of the trees, the trunk diameter in the area of ​​the cave is particularly important, which is almost always over 40 centimeters. Most of the caves are created in March and April; New partners always start to build a new nest cavity, but an existing nest cavity can be used as an actual nest cavity. The entrance hole of black woodpecker caves is slightly higher than it is wide, the lower edge is usually beveled so that rainwater can flow outwards. The entrance hole often uses a weak point in the trunk, its mean dimensions are 12.8 × 8.6 centimeters. The depth of the nest cavity varies between 30 and almost 60 centimeters, the clear width inside rarely falls below 25 centimeters. Optimal nesting holes are flown over many years. Such caves usually get deeper over time, so that the entrance hole has to be moved downwards. Both sexes are involved in building the nest, the interior construction seems to be reserved for the male. Black woodpeckers need around four weeks to build a completely new one, and caves are often only started and only completed when the approach area has been marshlanded enough to be easier to work on. If a cavity is lost, replacement cavities can be created in less than ten days.

Clutch and brood

Egg ( Museum Wiesbaden Collection )

Black woodpeckers breed once a year; the main breeding season in Central Europe is in April. The start of laying can be delayed considerably due to nuisance at the nesting site, so that full clutches can still be found at the beginning of June. Loss of eggs or nesting sites can lead to (mostly smaller) laggards up to twice a year, so that feeding adult birds were occasionally detected in August.

A full clutch consists of four (2–6) pointed oval, shiny porcelain white eggs with an average size of 35 × 26 millimeters and an average weight of 13 grams. So, considering the size of the woodpecker, the eggs are surprisingly small and light. The laying intervals are one, sometimes two days; Firmly incubated only after the last egg has been deposited. The chicks hatch at relatively long intervals of up to three days, and the differences in development of the nestlings are correspondingly large. The incubation period is on average 13 days; Both parents breed, at night, as with almost all woodpeckers, the male sits on the eggs. During the first eight days, the nestlings are constantly hovered and fed at relatively short intervals with a food pulp, mainly ants and ant larvae. Later, the parents only slip into the nest box to feed and remove the droppings . From the 17th day the nestlings appear at the cave entrance and are provided with food there. Overall, the duration of the nestling period is relatively variable and fluctuates between 25 and 31 days. After leaving the family, the family is usually divided into two groups, each of which is looked after by one parent. The duration of the tour varies widely, but is at least four to five weeks. There is no reliable knowledge of the interactions between the separate family associations during the tour. Overall, the breeding success and leakage rate of black woodpecker broods are very high. The rate of loss in several populations studied was below 15 percent.

After becoming independent, most black woodpeckers only migrate on a small scale. Long-range migrations of young birds over several 100 kilometers are known, however.

Age and causes of death

Little information is available on the maximum possible age of wild birds. In general, woodpeckers can reach a high age in the wild, but these birds are very rare exceptions. A Scandinavian male was found alive when he was about 14 years old. A female who was probably ringed in the year of birth was found dead after 12 years and had successfully brooded in the last year of her life. Loss of clutch or nestling as well as premature death are often due to predation by hawks and martens and, less frequently, by female sparrowhawks , peregrine falcons and eagle owls . Goshawks were the originators of 30 (out of 50) black woodpeckers examined. Many young birds have an accident in the first months of life or perish due to a lack of food in the first winter. Even in later years of life, particularly very snowy winters, which make the structures of various ant species inaccessible, bring black woodpeckers into critical situations. It is not uncommon for the feathers to become resinous and, in severe winters, to freeze the feathers and lead to death. Direct re-enactment by humans does not seem to play a major role.

Subsequent users of black woodpecker caves

Typical high-round entrance hole in a newly built nesting cave in a common beech

In Europe, 58 animal species have been identified that use the black woodpecker caves either as real subsequent users or as cave competitors. Among the birds, these are mainly stock doves , jackdaws and starlings , various types of owls, as well as goosander and golden-bellied . The black woodpecker is also an important source of caves for bats , among them some extremely endangered species. Other mammals such as squirrels , various dorms and pine marten also use black woodpecker dens as breeding or sleeping dens. In addition, insects such as the hornet , bees , bumblebees and wasps have been found to inhabit black woodpecker caves. Jackdaws, martens, rough-owls and tawny owls are the real cave competitors that the black woodpecker usually gives way to even in freshly built caves . The black woodpecker usually holds its own against stock dove, starling and smaller songbird species or smaller woodpeckers such as gray or green woodpecker.

The importance of the black woodpecker as a supplier of caves was studied in detail during the first settlement on Bornholm . The first proof of brood was made in 1966. By the mid-1980s, 36 pairs were breeding on the Baltic Sea island , and some non-breeding pairs were also observed. In total, almost 2000 caves were built during this time. During these 20 years the jackdaw population increased significantly, stock dove and rough owl were identified as new breeding bird species.


Helmet woodpecker ( Dryocopus pileatus ), a Nearctic relative

According to current opinion, the genus Dryocopus comprises seven species of large to very large woodpeckers, mostly black or black and white plumage. Most of the parietal plumage is elongated and colored red. Three woodpeckers of this genus have their main distribution area in the neotropical , two in the paleotropic and one each in the nearctic and in the palaearctic fauna region.

The nominate form Dryocopus martius martius inhabits almost the entire range of the species. Little differentiated from it comes - isolated and not yet adequately researched in terms of population and distribution - the subspecies D. m. khamensis ( Buturlin , 1908) in the area of ​​eastern Kunlun Shan as well as in areas of the extreme east of Tibet .

The occasionally mentioned subspecies D. m. pinetorum ( Brehm , 1831) and D. m. reichowi Kothe , 1906 with their mainly European distribution area are not generally recognized.

Inventory development and inventory trends

Towards the end of the 19th century, a marked expansion of the area of ​​this type was observed in large parts of Europe, which is probably associated with serious forestry changes, especially the large-scale conversion of low and medium-sized forests into high forests , as well as extensive reforestation with coniferous trees, especially spruce is to bring. This expansion was first observed in montane areas and then continued continuously in lower landscape areas. Large parts of northern Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and eastern Austria were settled by 1920, and in the 1960s further areas of France were settled where the species is still expanding, as well as settlements in Denmark and the Hungarian Plain . The black woodpecker has also been expanding its breeding area in Switzerland since the 1980s. In Sweden, the black woodpecker is the only species of woodpecker that has not suffered from the large-scale conversion of near-natural forest areas into commercial forests, but has benefited from it.

The European black woodpecker populations are currently largely stable or are still increasing regionally. Worldwide population estimates are not available, but stable to slightly positive developments are assumed. In Japan, the black woodpecker is considered an endangered species, which is mainly due to the large-scale deforestation of the populations of the Spanish beech , its main cave tree . In Europe, the estimates indicate population numbers between 740,000 and 1.4 million breeding pairs, of which about 34,000 breed in Germany, 5,000–6,000 in Austria and around 4,500 in Switzerland.

Cultural history

The black woodpecker does not play an insignificant role in the mythology of antiquity and the early Middle Ages. As its scientific species name martius (German: consecrated to Mars ) suggests, it is associated with Mars , the Roman god of war. This can be attributed to the ability of the woodpecker to defend itself, but on the other hand Mars was originally a god of fertility and the forest, so that the striking drumming and the far-reaching courtship calls of the black woodpecker may have contributed to this assignment. A woodpecker, probably the black woodpecker, already appears in the founding saga of Rome by providing food for Romulus and Remus in addition to the she-wolf . In ancient Greece the black woodpecker was an oracle bird, from whose calls and trajectories one prophesied the future. Probably under certain circumstances - like our black cat today  - it was considered a bad luck charm , as a later passage in Horace shows: “teque nec laevus vetat ire picus” (German: “no woodpecker on the left may hinder your journey”). Black woodpecker blood was considered a remedy for various Siberian peoples and the Ainu in Hokkaido worshiped him as a deity.

The generic name Dryocopus was formed from the Greek words δρῦς ( forest tree, oak ) and κόπτειν ( hit, hammer ) and can be translated as oak hammer .


The black woodpecker was in Switzerland Bird of the Year in Germany he was 2011. 1981 Bird of the Year .

Individual evidence

  1. HBV Vol. 9. (1994) p. 964
  2. Blume (1996) p. 20
  3. ^ Beaman p. 533
  4. HBV (1994) vol. 9. p. 966
  5. Gorman (2004) p. 19
  6. HBV Vol. 9 (1994) p. 964 and 1000
  7. HBV (1994) Vol. 9. pp. 967-971
  8. Bergmann (1982) p. 222
  9. Gorman (2004) p. 83
  10. Sound examples for the acoustic presence of the species
  11. HBV (1994) vol. 9. p. 972
  12. Günther (2002) p. 5
  13. Gorman (2004) p. 94
  14. HBV (1994) vol. 9. p. 975
  15. Gorman (2004) p. 84f
  16. Thomas Noah: Settlement density, habitat and population development of the woodpeckers in the NSG "Innerer Unterspreewald". Otis 8, 2000: pp. 75-98
  17. Gorman (2004) p. 86
  18. Black woodpecker on softwood by the river. Wildlife camera recordings from the Göttingen region, 2017 and 2018
  19. Gorman (2004) p.87
  20. a b c HBV (1994) vol. 9. p. 980
  21. HBV (1994) Vol. 9 p. 976
  22. Hölzinger (2001) Vol. 2.3 - p. 420
  23. HBV (1994) vol. 9. p. 978
  24. Blume (1996) p. 41
  25. a b Hölzinger (2001) Vol. 2.3 p. 422
  26. Hölzinger (2001) vol. 2.3 p. 421
  27. Euring database
  28. Günther (2002) p. 11
  29. Blume (1996) p. 50
  30. Günther (2002) p. 27
  31. Winkler (1995)
  32. Sergei Alexandrowitsch Buturlin, p. 229.
  33. Christian Ludwig Brehm, p. 185, panel XIII, figure 3.
  34. ^ Konrad Hermann Walter Kothe, p. 95.
  35. Bauer (1996) p. 287
  36. Gorman (2004) p. 84
  37. HBW (2002) Vol. 7
  38. Suzuki Mohoro et al. : Nest site environment of the Black Woodpecker Dryocopus martius in northern Honshu, Japan. In: Ornithol Sci 6: 141-144 (2007)
  39. Factsheet birdlife europe
  40. Blume p. 100
  41. Wember (2005) p. 113
  42. Bird of the Year (Switzerland): 2011
  43. Bird of the Year (Germany): 1981


  • Hans-Günther Bauer / Peter Berthold : The breeding birds of Central Europe. Existence and endangerment. 2nd, revised edition; AULA, Wiesbaden 1997, ISBN 3-89104-613-8 , pp. 287-288.
  • Mark Beaman and Steve Madge : Handbook of Bird Identification - Europe and Western Palearctic. Eugen Ulmer Verlag 1998, ISBN 3-8001-3471-3 , p. 533.
  • Hans-Heiner Bergmann , Hans-Wolfgang Helb: The voices of the birds of Europe. BLV Munich 1982, ISBN 3-405-12277-5 , p. 222.
  • Dieter Blume : Black Woodpecker, Gray Woodpecker and Green Woodpecker. Neue Brehm-Bücherei 300. Westarp Wissenschaften Magdeburg 1996, ISBN 3-89432-497-X , pp. 17-50.
  • Michael Dvorak et al. (Ed.): Atlas of the breeding birds of Austria . Federal Environment Agency 1993 p. 260 f. ISBN 3-85457-121-6
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  • Gilberto Pasinelli: Population biology of European woodpecker species: a review. In: Ann. Zool. Fennici 43: pp. 96-111; ISSN  0003-455X . The essay as PDF (en)
  • Peter Suedbeck et al. : Method standards for recording breeding birds in Germany . Radolfzell 2005, ISBN 3-00-015261-X .
  • Viktor Wember: The names of the birds of Europe . Meaning of the German and scientific names. AULA-Verlag Wiebelsheim 2005. ISBN 3-89104-678-2
  • Hans Winkler , David Christie and David Nurney: Woodpeckers. A Guide to Woodpeckers, Piculets, and Wrynecks of the World. Pica Press, Robertsbridge 1995, ISBN 0-395-72043-5 .
  • Konrad Hermann Walter Kothe: Dryocopus martiusreichenowi n. Subsp. In: Ornithological monthly reports . tape 14 , no. 6 , 1906, pp. 95 ( online [accessed September 24, 2015]).
  • Christian Ludwig Brehm: Handbook of the natural history of all birds in Germany in which, after the most careful investigations and the most precise observations, more than 900 native bird genera are fully described to justify a completely new view and treatment of their natural history . Printing and publishing by Bernh. Friedr. Voigt, Ilmenau 1831 ( online [accessed September 24, 2015]).
  • Sergei Alexandrowitsch Buturlin: Notes on Woodpeckers (Fam. Picidae) in the Zoological Museum of the Imperial Academy of Sciences in St. Petersburg . In: Ежегодник Зоологического музея Императорской академии наук . tape 13 , 1908, pp. 229-254 ( online [accessed September 24, 2015]).

Web links

Wiktionary: Black woodpecker  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : Black Woodpecker  - Album with pictures, videos and audio files
This article was added to the list of excellent articles on October 25, 2009 in this version .