Siberian Woodpecker?

Varanger’s Lesser Spotted Woodpecker

Knut-Sverre Horn alerted me to this very smart looking female Lesser Spotted Woodpecker (males and juveniles have a full red crown). It was photographed at Vestre Jakobselv on 26th May this year. Home of OWL Heaven  (to me at least). Same place we saw Tengmalm’s and Hawk Owls earlier this year.

It’s obviously boldly black and white notably with virtually no streaking below, either on flanks or ventral region. Is it just the nominate northern form or is it more Siberian?

Have a look at the bird and read a bit more comment at the end:

female Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Vestre Jakobselv, Varanger, Arctic Norway by Stian Didriksen.

Not sure you can nail it to one particular ‘form’ and there is a lot of subtle variation across the species’ range. It seems from my limited reading to fall between Northern minor and the Siberian form kamtschatkensis.

Whichever- birds in Varanger somehow always look so good!

Hers a bit from BWP on Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers:

Polytypic. Nominate minor (Linnaeus, 1758), Fenno-Scandia, north-east Poland, and western USSR east to Urals; kamtschatkensis (Malherbe, 1861), Siberia east to sea of Okhotsk, south to Altay and northern Mongolia, intergrading with nominate minor over wide area in northern Fenno-Scandia and in north, central, and east European USSR;


Nominate minor from Norway, southern Sweden, north-east Poland, and Baltic similar to kamtschatkensis, but forehead, ear-coverts, and underparts slightly tinged buff when plumage fresh (virtually white when worn), white bars and spots on upperparts and flight-feathers slightly narrower, flanks with narrow black streaks, and t5 with c. 2 black bars on tip. Birds from northern Sweden, Finland, Ukraine, and north, central, and east European USSR intermediate in colour between nominate minor and kamtschatkensis to varying degree; sometimes separated as transitivus (Loudon, 1914) or menzbieri Domaniewski, 1927

About Martin Garner

I am a Free Spirit
This entry was posted in Arctic Norway, Woodpeckers. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Siberian Woodpecker?

  1. Nick Moran says:

    Will be interested to see what today’s Shetland bird looks like, in light of these musings!

  2. ‘…birds in Varanger somehow always look so good!’ Well, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker in Scalloway this afternoon looked AMAZING! Crippling views this evening near to the health centre, where Rob Fray found the bird initially, earlier this afternoon. For excellent pics by Rebecca Nason and others, go to (click the facebook link, they’re not on the latest sightings page at time of writing). The Shetland bird didn’t really look like the Varanger one. The underparts were distinctly grubby white, maybe more so in the field than appears on the pics, with thin, well-defined dark streaks; and it had distinctly buffy grey forehead and ear-coverts. The one thing that did strike me was that it was larger than I expected, I’d say it was maybe 20% bigger than House Sparrow. Maybe it’s too long since I saw a Lesser Spot sitting next to a sparrow (maybe I never have) – but it wasn’t quite as diddy as I was expecting. It must surely be a continental bird?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s