SIG Woodpeckers

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The SIG Woodpeckers - the official name of the woodpecker working group - is a loose consortium of people with an interest in the woodpecker family. Some observe and study woodpeckers in their free time and others are full-time biologists. We believe that participation by non-professional woodpecker researchers is particularly important.

  • The working group dates back to 1990 and was preceded by two international woodpecker conferences.  The first conference was held in Uppsala and was hosted by our Swedish colleagues.
  • The second international woodpecker conference was held in Nürtingen, Baden-Württemberg, and hosted jointly by the local technical college, the State Bird Observatory and the Federal Association for Scientific Bird Conservation (Bundesverband Wissenschaftlicher Vogelschutz).
  • At Nürtingen, the participants expressed the wish to make the conference a standing institution. The "WG Woodpeckers" was born, initially under the aegis of the Baden- Württemberg State Bird Observatory.
  • The aim of the SIG is to provide a platform for the exchange and discussion of study results and to encourage further research work. A network is to be created to bring together the voluntary and full-time woodpecker researchers, who until now have worked more or less in isolation.

We exchange our observations in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere and, because there are many more ‘amateurs‘  than professional ornithologists in our ranks, our joint efforts result in the gathering of important information for present and future woodpecker research.

Our conference programme is carefully designed to present issues in such a way that they are understandable for all participants.

The working language is German when the conferences are held in Austria, Germany and Switzerland. English is used as the working language as a rule only at the larger international woodpecker conferences.

A wide range of topics is covered. Questions concerning environmental conservation are in the foreground.

  • What are the characteristics of a Green Woodpecker habitat?
  • How large a territory is required by a pair of Black Woodpeckers?
  • Why has the Middle Spotted Woodpecker become locally extinct in certain regions?
  • Why has the Three-toed Woodpecker resettled the Black Forest?

Questions including the relationships between woodpecker species, breeding biology, calls and moult are also treated.


The German pages provide up to date information on planned meetings and events. See also




SIG Woodpeckers

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Spokespersons of the group:

Elena Ballenthien, Kerstin Höntsch, and Michael Lanz