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Eurasian Green Woodpecker

From Opus

MalePhoto © by NIGHTJAR1Nottinghamshire, UK, June 2006
Photo © by NIGHTJAR1
Nottinghamshire, UK, June 2006
Picus viridis


[edit] Identification

31–33 cm (12ΒΌ-13 in)

  • Dark green upper parts
  • Yellowish-green under parts
  • Red crown and nape
  • Black face mask and moustachial stripe
  • Yellow rump
  • Black and white outer primaries
  • Grey bill and feet

Sexes similar except male has a crimson centre to the moustache
Juvenile: duller and has whitish barred underparts

[edit] Similar Species

Levaillant's Woodpecker, Grey-headed Woodpecker

[edit] Distribution

FemalePhoto © by SandpiperColwick, Nottinghamshire, UK, 4 August 2003
Photo © by Sandpiper
Colwick, Nottinghamshire, UK, 4 August 2003

Generally common and widespread over much of its range; scarce, but increasing, on the northern fringes of its range. Breeds in Britain north to central Scotland, and from France east to about 50 degrees east in Russia, also in the Caucasus, Iran and southwesternmost Turkmenistan. In the north found in coastal and southern parts of Norway and Sweden, Poland and the Baltic States. Occurs south to the north Mediterranean coast from southern France to Greece and Turkey.

Resident throughout range with only short-distance dispersal but may move further in the east as a result of more severe winter weather. Vagrants have been recorded in Ireland, Finland, Malta and the Balearics.

[edit] Taxonomy

The former Iberian race P. v. sharpei which lacks the black mask and moustache is now accepted as full species: Iberian Green Woodpecker[1][2]

[edit] Subspecies

FemalePhoto © by the late MahslebMinsmere, Suffolk, 9 October 2012
Photo © by the late Mahsleb
Minsmere, Suffolk, 9 October 2012

There are three subspecies[1]

  • P. v. viridis:
  • P. v. karelini: duller and greyer than the nominate
  • P. v. innominatus:
  • Zagros Mountains (Southwestern Iran).

A further population described from southeast Iran as P. v. bampurensis is of uncertain status, and may be extinct.[3]

[edit] Habitat

Deciduous or mixed woodland, generally in more lowland areas than Grey-headed Woodpecker. Can be common in parks and large gardens, and also open areas with scattered trees, especially in winter.

[edit] Behaviour

Usually solitary or in pairs, feeds mainly on the ground, often 'star-gazes'.

[edit] Flight

Markedly undulating flight, caused by prolonged closure of wings.

[edit] Breeding

JuvenilePhoto © by max1Surrey, England, 10 August 2016
Photo © by max1
Surrey, England, 10 August 2016

They drill out holes in dead or rotten trees for the nest. The clutch consists of 4-7 glossy white eggs, which are rounded at both ends.

[edit] Diet

Insects, primarily ants, which are captured by a rapid outward flick of the long tongue, gummed to its tip by sticky saliva. Birds from this species can often be seen searching for and eating ants on the ground (a behaviour shared by several other woodpeckers, including other green woodpeckers, wrynecks, and flickers).

[edit] Vocalisation

Call: A loud plue, plue, plue, which sounds like a laugh, or "yaffle", from which it gets the country name. The alarm call is a truncated variant of the advertising call.

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[edit] References

  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, S. M. Billerman, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2019. The eBird/Clements Checklist of Birds of the World: v2019. Downloaded from
  2. Gill F, D Donsker & P Rasmussen (Eds). 2020. IOC World Bird List (v10.1). doi : 10.14344/IOC.ML.10.1. Available at
  3. Del Hoyo, J, A Elliot, and J Sargatal, eds. 2002. Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 7: Jacamars to Woodpeckers. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. ISBN 978-8487334375
  4. Avibase
  5. Peterson, RT, G Mountfort and PAD Hollom. 1993. Collins Field Guide – Birds of Britain and Europe, 5th Revised edition. London: HarperCollins Publishers. ISBN 978-0002199001
  6. AvianWeb
  7. Swain, H.D. (1985) The Observer's Book of Birds' Eggs, Frederick Warne. ISBN 0723200602
  8. Winkler, H. and D.A. Christie (2020). Eurasian Green Woodpecker (Picus viridis), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (J. del Hoyo, A. Elliott, J. Sargatal, D.A. Christie, and E. de Juana, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA.

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