Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker: races ID

There are clinal differences in the plumage and measurements of Lesser Spotted Woodpecker across its range. There are often clear differences between races in terms of size, pattern of plumage and colour tones, in particular the shade of white on the head. As a rule northern and eastern birds are paler and larger than southern and western ones. In Europe three groups can be defined in the hand. The nominate minor (Scandinavia to Urals) is the largest, longest tailed, longest winged and is overall whiter with less streaking on the flanks and less bars on the outer tail. Hortorum (most of continental Europe) is intermediate in wing length, is slightly smaller, with a slightly shorter tail. This race also has less white on the back, has darker and buffer under-parts, more flank streaking and the outer rectrices are more barred than on minor, the face appears dirty and some show a touch of pink on the throat and upper breast. Buturlini (Iberia, through Mediterranean zone to the Balkans), danfordi (Greece and Turkey) and comminutus (Britain) are darker and all short in the wing. On most danfordi birds the black post-auricular stripe comes close to, or even touches the nape. Most comminutus are largely plain white, lacking streaks below. This photo shows a nominate race (minor) adult male (note red on crown) in Sweden, in February 2005 (Göran Ekström). Note how the white underparts lack barring. Note also just two clear black bars on the outer tail feather.

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