Middle Spotted Woodpecker Leiopicus medius


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 very 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
In Europe (which covers >95% of the breeding range), the breeding population is estimated to be 301,000-678,000 pairs, which equates to 602,000-1,360,000 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015).

Trend justification
In Europe, trends between 1989 and 2013 show that the population was stable (EBCC 2015). The short-term population trend (2000-2012) in Europe is estimated to be increasing (BirdLife International 2015).


The species is restricted to mature deciduous forest. It prefers mixed oak (Quercus), on which it depends in large parts of its range, and hornbeam (Carpinus) in primeval forest. Old open orchards bordering deciduous woodland also used, but are of dwindling importance. In the south it occupies beech, mixed oak-beech and oak forest and beech forest in north-east Anatolia and the Caucasus. Breeding begins from mid-April to the beginning of May. The nest is excavated by both the male and female in the trunk or a larger branch of a deciduous tree, mainly in dead or decaying wood. Clutch size is typically five to six eggs. It feeds mainly on bark-dwelling arthropods, caterpillars, dipterans and aphids. Small beetles and ants predominate in the adult food, whereas nestlings are fed with caterpillars, bugs, lice, beetles, hymenopterans and dipterans, as well as arachnids. Plant material is taken mainly in the winter (Winkler et al. 2014). The species is non-migratory (Hagemeijer and Blair 1997).


Declines have mostly been driven by forest management, especially fragmentation of oak forests, elimination of old and decaying trees and the replacement of indigenous deciduous forest with coniferous. The effects of atmospheric pollution may pose a risk (Hagemeijer and Blair 1997). Climatic changes and adverse weather also influence populations on a local scale (Winkler et al. 2014).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
Bern Convention Appendix II. EU Birds Directive Annex I. A species action plan for Switzerland was published in 2008 (Pasinelli 2008).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Conservation actions for this species must be taken on several spatial scales. Within areas of forest, sufficient nesting and foraging trees must be maintained and within the landscape the maintenance of traditional sylvopastoral habitats is essential. On the regional scale, adequate areas of land must be preserved for the species (Robles et al. 2007). The effects of atmospheric pollution on the availability and abundance of arthropod prey of the species needs to be fully understood (Hagemeijer and Blair 1997).


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

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Species factsheet: Leiopicus medius. Downloaded from on 01/12/2022. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2022) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 01/12/2022.