Around 25 centimetres long, this woodpecker has black and white plumage with bright red feathers under the tail. It has a wingspan of around 40 centimetres. The male has a red patch on the back of its head.
The great spotted woodpecker can be found in all types of woodland across Europe. It does not usually migrate, although birds from the colder parts of its range may winter further south.
The woodpecker drums rapidly with its strong bill on tree trunks or branches. It feeds on insects, conifer seeds, and occasionally birds eggs and nestlings. It often extracts seeds from crevices in tree bark with the tip of its sticky tongue.