Unmistakable. A crow-sized woodpecker with a direct if flappy and rather clumsy-looking flight. All black, with a powerful ivory-coloured bill. The Black Woodpecker Bird (male) has an entirely red crown, while in the Black Woodpecker Bird (female) red is restricted to the hind crown. The eye is white with a boldly staring effect. Quite shy and unobtrusive despite its size, but it is inquisitive and responds to imitations of its call.
Although never reliably recorded in Britain, Black Woodpecker Bird is found just a short ferry ride away on the near coast of Europe. It favours mature coniferous and mixed forest, but also occurs in deciduous forest such as beech, up to 2000m on occasion, and requires a large breeding territory. It can range more widely in winter, visiting isolated woods and secondary stands. Although expanding in the north-west of its range, on the whole it is sedentary.
Vocal and loud throughout the year, with a variety of different calls. The call usually given in flight or alarm is a mechanical-sounding and guttural "krrr h'krrrh'krrrh'krrrh'krrrh...". While perched Black Woodpecker Bird gives an often repeated, loud clear "kluuue", which on closer analysis is a rather disyllabic sound with a swallowed short first syllable, such as "khxlooo". The advertising call, analogous to the "yaffle" of the Green Woodpecker, is a rather long "ee'qwe 'qwe'qwe'qwe'qwe'qwe'qwe...", rising in pitch and tempo. It also gives another disyllabic call, a "ke'viou ke'viou" or "ih'kvui, ih'kvui", again with a swallowed first syllable. It has the loudest and longest drum of any of our woodpeckers, typically lasting 2.25 seconds and with a very fast rate of 16-18 'knocks' per second. It also uses loud tapping and knocking sounds as contact calls.