Family Woodpeckers (Picidae)

Least Concern

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker (Dryobates minor)


French: Pic épeichette German: Kleinspecht Spanish: Pico menor

Picus minor


, 1758,



Previously placed in Dendrocopos or Picoides. Recent molecular analyses found this species to be closest to D. cathpharius (with D. pernyii), these also being close to D. pubescens#R. Races intergrade extensively over species’ huge range, with many intermediate populations; numerous additional races have been described, often on rather weak grounds, and differences frequently part of a clinal variation. Other proposed races include hispaniae (Spain), jordansi (C European mountains), serbicus (Montenegro), wagneri (Romania), hyrcanus (N Iran), mongolicus (SW Siberia to Mongolia), nojidoensis (NE Korea) and immaculatus (Kamchatka). Eleven subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • D. m. minor (Linnaeus, 1758) – N Europe from Scandinavia E to Ural Mts.
  • D. m. kamtschatkensis (Malherbe, 1861) – Urals E to R Anadyr and Kamchatka.
  • D. m. amurensis (Buturlin, 1908) – lower R Amur and Sakhalin S to NE Korea, NE China and N Japan (Hokkaido).
  • D. m. comminutus (E. J. O. Hartert, 1907) – SC & S Britain.
  • D. m. hortorum (C. L. Brehm, 1831) – France E to Poland and S to Switzerland, Hungary and N Romania.
  • D. m. buturlini E. J. O. Hartert, 1912 – Iberia, S France and Italy E to Romania, Bulgaria and N Greece.
  • D. m. ledouci (Malherbe, 1855) – NW Africa (NE Algeria, NW Tunisia).
  • D. m. danfordi (Hargitt, 1883) – Greece and Turkey.
  • D. m. colchicus (Buturlin, 1908) – Caucasus and Transcaucasia.
  • D. m. quadrifasciatus (Radde, 1884) – Lenkoran region of SE Transcaucasia (SE Azerbaijan).
  • D. m. morgani (Zarudny & Loudon, 1904) – NE Iraq#R, NW Iran and Zagros Mts.
  • Descriptive notes

    14–16 cm; 16–25 g (hor­torum), 18–22 g (comminutus), 19–26 g (minor). Male has buff-tinged white forehead and lores,... read more


    Commonest is series of notes, “gee-geegeegee” or longer; single “gig” and... read more


    Temperate and boreal deciduous woodland in lowlands. Open forest with softwood deciduous trees in... read more

    Food and feeding

    Small insects comprise main bulk of diet. In summer, mostly caterpillars, aphids, ants, beetles, and other surface-dwelling arthropods,... read more


    Laying Apr to mid-May, to Jun in N. Generally monogamous, pair-bond may extend over several years; also, study in S Sweden found almost 10... read more


    Resident in most of range. N populations partly migratory; movements often eruptive in nature, in... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Fairly common to scarce in most of range; nowhere very common; scarce in N Africa. European population estimated at c. 195,000–... read more

    Recommended citation

    Winkler, H. & Christie, D.A. (2019). Lesser Spotted Woodpecker (Dryobates minor). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 9 December 2019).