Family Woodpeckers (Picidae)

Least Concern

Middle Spotted Woodpecker (Leiopicus medius)


French: Pic mar German: Mittelspecht Spanish: Pico mediano

Picus medius


, 1758,



Recent molecular analyses found this species to be sister to L. auriceps, the two forming a clade with L. mahrattensis#R. Previously thought to be related to Dendrocopos atratus and D. macei, but no real evidence; superficial similarity to D. leucotos may have suggested possible relationship, although not supported by genetic data. Variation largely clinal, e.g. nominate race becoming darker with flank streaking more pronounced towards S, and races rather poorly differentiated; anatoliae possibly inseparable from caucasicus#R; other named races are lilianae (NW Spain), splendidior (SE Europe to Greece and Turkey) and laubmanni (S Transcaucasia), all regarded as unacceptable. Four subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • L. m. medius (Linnaeus, 1758) – N Spain and France NE to S Sweden (recently extinct), Estonia, W Russia and Ukraine, and SE to Italy and the Balkans.
  • L. m. caucasicus (Bianchi, 1904) – N Turkey, Caucasus and Transcaucasia; probably this race in NW Iran.
  • L. m. anatoliae (E. J. O. Hartert, 1912) – W & S Asia Minor and NW Syria#R.
  • L. m. sanctijohannis (Blanford, 1873) – Zagros Mts in NE Iraq#R and SW Iran.
  • Descriptive notes

    20–22 cm; 50–85 g. Male has buffish-white forehead, crimson-red crown and nape (feathers long, narrow), narrow black hindneck; rest of head and neck white, ear-... read more


    Most frequent vocalization is rattle call “kíg-gag-gag-gag-gag”, most commonly... read more


    Restricted to mature deciduous forest; prefers mixed oak (Quercus) and hornbeam (... read more

    Food and feeding

    Bark-dwelling arthropods, caterpillars, dipterans, aphids, also plant material; no wood-boring larvae. Small beetles and ants predominate... read more


    Mid-Apr to beginning of May. Conspicuous crest-raising display, near hole also flutter-aerial display. Nest excavated by both sexes, taking... read more


    Resident; short-distance dispersal may lead individuals outside breeding range.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Fairly common to common, but often rather local. European population estimated at 62,000–78,440 pairs, with additional 1000–10,000 in... read more

    Recommended citation

    Winkler, H., Christie, D.A., Kirwan, G.M. & de Juana, E. (2020). Middle Spotted Woodpecker (Leiopicus medius). 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 April 2020).