We saw seven species of woodpecker on our recent trip to Hungary. Black, Green and Wryneck were pretty easy to sort out – the other four black and white ones needed a bit more care and attention.
Unlike in Britain, Great Spotted Woodpecker in Hungary is generally a species confined to mature woodlands. Similar to Syrian, with reasonable views, the plain breast, bright red under-tail coverts and the black chin-stripe continuing back through to the nape, create sufficient difference to allow identification.
Syrian Woodpecker are predominantly birds of parks and gardens. The broad white cheek-patch with an absence of a black line running across it, pinker under-tail coverts, slightly longer bill and pale nostril feathering (yeah right!) making identification possible, with reasonable views.
Smallest – but not by much, is Middle Spotted Woodpecker. Largely confined to mature woodland, identified by scarlet crown, an ‘open-faced’ appearance – resulting from only a faint moustachial stripe and pinkish streaked flanks and belly.
Last of this ‘B&W quartet’ is White-backed Woodpecker. Restricted to mature forests with plenty of dead and decaying timber – this is a tricky species to find, let alone see well. Whilst only slightly longer than Great Spotted, it’s a chunkier, more powerful, bird altogether. Long bill, pinkish streaked belly and white cheek-patch interrupted by partial black ear-covert bar stopping short of the crown, all aid identification. Side views of perched birds (see below) reveal broad white horizontal covert-bars.