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45â€“55 cm (17Â½-21Â½ in)
Males- entire crown is red, females red hindcrown only
In the Western Palearctic the main breeding range is Scandinavia except the highest mountains and the far north and from Germany and Switzerland across Europe to the Urals and Caspian. In the south breeds as far as northern Greece but rare and local in Turkey. Scattered breeding populations in much of France and the Low Countries, the Pyrenees and Cantabrians, southern Apennines, the eastern Balkans and isolated in the Caucasus.
Mainly resident but small numbers are seen at Scandinavian migration sites and juveniles disperse to some extent. Expanding range in north-western Europe, particularly in France and now found as far west as Brittany.
Vagrants have possibly reached Britain but despite now having been reported more than 80 times there are no accepted records. The English Channel does not seem to be an insurmountable barrier for this species as it has colonised the Danish island of Bornholm which lies a similar distance from the mainland as that between northern France and Kent.
There are 2 subspecies:
Mature forest, coniferous, deciduous or preferably mixed. In winter may occur in rather more open habitats.
Nests in large tree, favours beech, pine or aspen, and 4 or more eggs are laid. Often drums from the highest tree in the area.
Frequently feeds on the ground. Their main diet consists of ants and their larvae.
Drum: very loud and fast. Can be heard at distances of 2-4 km.
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