Scottish woodpeckers seen in record numbers

01 Aug 2015 | No. 2015-37

It’s always a privilege to have Great Spotted Woodpeckers visiting your garden feeder and even more so if your garden is in Scotland. According to British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) Garden BirdWatch results, they are being seen more and more in Scottish gardens. Will they become a regular visitor, or has it just been a good few years for them? Your help is needed to find out.

Great Spotted Woodpeckers often feed in gardens, coming in to use mesh peanut feeders and hanging fat blocks. However, when the BTO Garden BirdWatch survey started in 1995, they were rarely seen in Scottish gardens, visiting less than 10% of them over the year.

Since then, their population has increased across Britain and one driving factor could be the increasing provision of supplementary food in gardens. This ease of access to food, especially in winters when natural seeds are scarce, could be why the number of Scottish gardens reporting Great Spotted Woodpeckers has increased.  At their peak this summer, another time when seeds are in short supply, Great Spotted Woodpeckers were seen in a record 38% of Scottish BTO Garden BirdWatch gardens!

Clare Simm, from the Garden Ecology team, commented, "It’s great to see from BTO Garden BirdWatch data that Great Spotted Woodpeckers are becoming a more common sight in Scottish gardens. However, we don’t know if this summer was particularly good for Great Spotted Woodpeckers, or if they will continue to increase their use of garden resources. If you watch your garden birds for a few minutes each week, you can help us learn whether their good fortunes will continue or not."

Will Great Spotted Woodpeckers continue to do well in Scottish gardens? Help us monitor their numbers to find out.

For a free BTO Garden BirdWatch information pack, which includes a copy of our quarterly magazine, please contact gbw [at], telephone 01842 750050, or write to Garden BirdWatch, BTO, The Nunnery, Thetford, Norfolk, IP24 2PU.  More information can also be found at

Notes for Editors

  1. The BTO Garden BirdWatch is the only nationwide survey of garden birds to run weekly throughout the year, providing important information on how birds use gardens, and how this use changes over time. Currently, some 13,000 people take part in the project. The project is funded by participants’ contributions and is the largest year-round survey of garden birds in the world. For more information see
  2. The BTO is the UK's leading bird research charity. A growing membership and up to 60,000 volunteer birdwatchers contribute to the BTO's surveys, collecting information that underpins conservation action in the UK. The BTO maintains a staff of 100 at its offices in Thetford, Stirling, Bangor (Wales) and Bangor (Northern Ireland), who analyse and publicise the results of surveys and projects. The BTO's work is funded by BTO supporters, government, trusts, industry and conservation

Contact Details

Clare Simm
(BTO Garden BirdWatch Development Officer)

Office: 01842 750050
(9am to 5.30pm)
Email: clare.simm [at]

Ben Darvill
(BTO Scotland Development Coordinator)

Office: 01786 466560
Email: ben.darvill [at]

Paul Stancliffe
(BTO Media Manager)

Office: 01842 750050
(9am to 5.30pm)
Mobile: 07585 440910 (anytime)
Email: press [at]

Images are available for use alongside this News Release.
Please contact images [at] quoting reference 2015-37

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Please contact us to book an interview
Office: 01842 750050

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