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Eurasian Green Woodpecker

From Opus

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

Includes: Iberian Green Woodpecker


[edit] Identification

31–33 cm (12¼-13 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

FemalePhoto © by SandpiperColwick, Nottinghamshire, UK
Photo © by Sandpiper
Colwick, Nottinghamshire, UK

[edit] Variation

The Iberian race P. v. sharpei which lacks the black mask and moustache. It is now accepted as full species by IOC.[2]

[edit] Similar Species

Levaillant's Woodpecker, Grey-headed Woodpecker

[edit] Distribution

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 Iberia and 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 Spain 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

Male, subspecies P. v. sharpeiPhoto © by Mark EtheridgeClot de Galvany, Spain
Male, subspecies P. v. sharpei
Photo © by Mark Etheridge
Clot de Galvany, Spain

[edit] Subspecies

There are three or four subspecies, depending on authority:[1]

  • Nominate P. v. viridis is found over much of range, from Britain south to France, the Alps, northern Yugoslavia and Romania.
  • P. v. karelini: which is duller and greyer than the nominate, occurs in Italy, southeast Europe east to central Asia.
  • P. v. innominatus is found in southwestern Iran. A further population described from southeast Iran as P. v. bampurensis is of uncertain status, and may be extinct.[3]
  • The Iberian Green Woodpecker P. (v.) sharpei is more distinct; the face is much greyer with black confined to lores and little or no barring on the underparts, moustachial stripe of male has much more red. It occurs in the Iberian Peninsula and the Pyrénées, and in many respects is intermediate between typical Green Woodpecker and Levaillant's Woodpecker.[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

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

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

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

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

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.

Listen in an external program

[edit] References

  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2017. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2017, with updates to August 2017. Downloaded from
  2. Gill, F and D Donsker (Eds). 2013. IOC World Bird Names (version 3.5). 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. Collins Field Guide 5th Edition ISBN 0 00 219900 9
  6. AvianWeb
  7. The Observer's Book of Birds' Eggs ISBN 0723200602

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