The Syrian Woodpecker, Dendrocopos syriacus, is a member of the woodpecker family, the Picidae. The Syrian Woodpecker is a resident breeding bird from southeastern Europe east to Iran. Its range has expanded further northwest into Europe in recent years. It is an inhabitant of open woodlands, cultivation with trees and scrubs, and parks, depending for food and nesting sites upon old trees.
It is often an unnoticeable bird, in spite of the plumage. The large white shoulder patch is a feature that catches the eye.
Syrian Woodpecker is about 10 inches long, and is very similar to the Great Spotted Woodpecker. The upper parts of the male are glossy black, with a crimson spot on the nape and white on the sides of the face and neck. On the shoulder is a large white patch and the flight feathers are barred with black and white. The three outer tail feathers show only a few white spots; these show when the short stiff tail is outspread, acting as a support in climbing. The under parts are beige-white, the abdomen and under tail coverts reddish. The long bill is slate black and the legs greenish gray. The female has no crimson on the nape, and in the young this nape spot is absent, but the crown is crimson.
The Syrian Woodpecker’s food mainly consists of those insects which bore into the timber of forest trees, such as the larvae of wood boring moths and beetles. The woodpecker usually alights on the trunk, working upwards. During the ascent it taps the bark, breaking off fragments, but often extracts its prey from crevices with the tip of its sticky tongue. Seeds, nuts and berries are eaten when insect food is scarce.
The Syrian Woodpecker’s boring and nesting habits are very much the same as the Great Spotted Woodpecker.