Black Woodpecker Dryocopus martius


Justification of Red List category
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be increasing, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Population justification
The European population is estimated at 1,110,000-1,820,000 pairs, which equates to 2,210,000-3,630,000 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015). Europe forms c.35% of the global range, so a very preliminary estimate of the global population size is 6,300,000-10,400,000 mature individuals, although further validation of this estimate is needed.

Trend justification
The species has expanded its range in western Europe, central Europe and Japan (del Hoyo et al. 2002). In Europe, trends between 1980 and 2013 show that populations have undergone a moderate increase (p<0.01) (EBCC 2015).


The species is found in all types of mature forest, so long as it is not extremely dense and gloomy and it also uses forest edges. In Scandinavia and Siberia it occupies spruce (Picea) and pine (Pinus) forests with larch (Larix), birch (Betula), aspen (Populus) and alder (Alnus); In Poland all habitat types in primeval forests; in central Europe occurs in all types of not over-dense deciduous, mixed or coniferous forest, from riparian woodland to subalpine forest. In Japan it uses open boreal mixed or coniferous forest at 100-1,000 m. Mating behaviour may begin in mid-January although egg-laying is generally from mid-March to mid-May. The nest is excavated in a tall tree, usually living and either coniferous or deciduous. Clutch size is typically three to five eggs. Its diet consists mainly of ants (Camponotus, Formica, Lasius) and their brood. Wood-boring beetles and bark beetles and their larvae (e.g. Cerambycidae, Elateridae) are also taken, as well as various other arthropods, and occasionally snails, fruits and berries. It has been reported to break into beehives. In most areas the species is resident and even northern populations only partially migratory (Winkler and Christie 2002).


The species is not threatened across its range (Winkler and Christie 2002), however locally within Europe, logging and forestry management do pose a risk (Garmendia et al. 2006, Zhelezov 2010).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
Bern Convention Appendix II. There are no known current conservation measures for this species.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Monitoring should be established to ensure logging and forest management does not become a serious threat.


Text account compilers
Butchart, S., Ekstrom, J., Symes, A., Ashpole, J

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2024) Species factsheet: Dryocopus martius. Downloaded from on 24/02/2024.
Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2024) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 24/02/2024.