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I don't think they bore holes in search of food, I think they are nest sites. We have Greater Spotted Woodpeckers in the silver birch trees (which they apparently love to nest in) behind our house.
yes, i suppose thinking about it they wouldn't need to bore that deeply if they were only searching for invertebrate lunches. I will go back in the spring to see if any peckers are using this tree to nest. I also wonder if woodpeckers drum to attract mates? or to denote territory?
Yes definite nesting holes. Would be interested to learn if drumming attracted females and deterred other males (sounds like a good study subject).
Woodpecker nests are pretty easy to locate when they've got young as they are so noisy - re-visit holes spotted in the winter and listen for the cheeping.
Another sign of woodpecker activity are holes caused by 'sap-sucking' (many horizontal rows of small holes around the trunk of small-ish trees). I've seen this only occasionally - Oliver Rackham points out that this activity is rarely mentioned in older literature and suggests this may have been a relative recent addition to Great Spotted Woodpecker behaviour. I've never seen pine cones wedged in tree bark cavities by Woodpeckers in this country either - this pretty common in Eastern Europe.
Interesting thanks Rob. When should i revisit the site to look for nesting sites? Spring time? April/May?
They'll be laying eggs from mid April onwards, so mid-late May will be the best time to look (listen) - they may only start to make a lot of noise when they're getting bigger. Good luck!
Lat/Lng: 50.918339013108, -1.3302694559752
OS grid ref: SU471134