Syrian Woodpecker Dendrocopos syriacus


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 stable hence it is not thought to 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 281,000-653,000 pairs, which equates to 563,000-1,310,000 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015). Europe forms 90% of the global range, so a very preliminary estimate of the global population size is 625,000-1,460,000 mature individuals, although further validation of this estimate is needed.

Trend justification
This species has extended its range greatly. Formerly restricted to the eastern Mediterranean, it is now found throughout the Balkans, into central Europe, including Hungary and Poland. Agricultural development and other human activities have probably enabled this expansion (del Hoyo et al. 2002). The European population trend is estimated to be stable (BirdLife International 2015).


This species occurs in open country with wooded areas. It is often found in plantations of all kinds, including olive, pecan (Carya) and avocado in the south, and vineyards in central Europe, where it is also seen in roadside trees and groups of trees, mainly near habitations, as well as forest edges, parks and gardens. It inhabits oak (Quercus) woodland and light montane forest in the southeast and breeds in coniferous forest at lower levels in Turkey. Egg-laying occurs from mid-April to May, rarely to June. The nest-hole is excavated by both sexes, but mostly by male, in a trunk or large branch of a tree, or occasionally in a utility pole or similar structure. Old nests are sometimes reused. Clutch size is three to seven eggs (Winkler et al. 2014). It is omnivorous, feeding on various insects, snails, earthworms, fruit, berries, sap, nuts and seeds (Gorman 2014). The species is resident and dispersive; sometimes long distances are covered during dispersal (Winkler et al. 2014).


Hybridization is known to occur with Great Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major), however once sufficient females of D. syriacus colonize an area, the extent of hybridization becomes insignificant (Hagemeijer and Blair 1997). The species was formerly persecuted locally as a pest (known to cause damage in plantations and peck irrigation pipes) and sometimes large numbers were shot, however it is now generally tolerated (Winkler et al. 2014).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
Bern Convention Appendix II. EU Birds Directive Annex I. There are currently no known conservation measures for this species within Europe.

Conservation Actions Proposed
No conservation measures are currently needed.


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

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Species factsheet: Dendrocopos syriacus. Downloaded from on 06/12/2022. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2022) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 06/12/2022.