Status and distribution By far the most widespread and abundant of the spotted woodpeckers, breeds throughout Britain, most of Scandinavia except the far north and the highest mountains, throughout Europe from Iberia to northern Greece and east to the Urals and Caspian. Also breeds on the Canary Is, Corsica, Sardinia and Sicily and isolated populations in the Caucasus and in parts of northern Turkey, in Morocco and northern parts of Algeria and Tunisia.
Resident throughout range but may be irruptive in the north.
Vagrants recorded in Iceland, Faroes and Ireland.
Subspecies About 15 races have been described for the Region differing slightly in overall size, bill size and colour of underparts. However there is much intergradation in mainland races and also variation within races. Typically northern races are larger with shorter, stouter bills and whiter underparts. Nominate race major of Scandinavia and Russia is typical of northern birds, large in size, short, thick bill and boldy black-and-white plumage. Race pinetorum, from the Netherlands and Denmark south to the Alps and east to Romania, is similar but bill more slender and white of plumage more brownish or greyish. British race anglicus with even more slender bill, upperparts rather browner and buffier below, italiae from Italy and Iberian hispanus have pale plumage buffier, especially on cheeks. Corsican race parroti and Sardinian harterti resemble hispanus but slightly larger. North African races mauritanus and numidus are cream below with a bold chest band, black at the sides and red in the centre,(sometimes seen in hispanus). Two Canarian races, canariensis from Tenerife, creamy-buff below and thanneri from Gran Canaria more greyish. eastern races, candidus from the Ukraine to Balkans and paphlagoniae from Turkey resemble pinetorum, poelzami from extreme east of Region in Transcaucasia is darkest of races with pale plumage smoky brown.
Habitat Deciduous, coniferous or preferably mixed woodland and forest, parks and orchards,sometimes, especially in winter, in large gardens.