Video, photos and text Tiit Hunt, www.rmk.ee
Somewhere quite close to Tallinn , in an old summer house area by the sea, now turned into a green area, the great spotted woodpecker has its nest. This spring the woodpecker only managed to raise one chick, in better years they may even be five to seven, But surely better one than none.
During the breeding period the traditional enemy of the spotted woodpecker is the pine marten but presumably a squirrel passes much more easily through the nest opening, that is somewhat narrow for the marten, to the eggs or tiny defenceless chicks. It is less well known that the squirrel too is out for bird eggs and chicks to eat, at least during the raising of its young in spring. The squirrel visits the same garden to sleep in the bird nestboxes.
Likewise the great spotted woodpecker likes to feast on the eggs and young of other birds when its chicks are growing. After a recent early morning fight I was lucky to get photo evidence of the attempts of the woodpecker to invade the nest box of the tits to get hold of the great tit chicks in the nest. It hammered furiously at the hole of the great tit nest box where the chicks were peeping. Whether the woodpecker got hold of any of them is not known.
In spring-early summer when many have their breeding time it is noticeable how animals and birds that are otherwise vegans for some time change into robber creatures lusting for animal protein
Usually, as we see from the video too, the woodpeckers search for insects on tree trunks, using their very long tongue for it. The tongue often flashes out from the beak of a woodpecker chick like that of a viper or grass snake.