European Green Woodpecker
Picus viridis - Pic vert
- Size: 33 cm
- Wingspan: 40 à 42 cm.
- Weight: 180 à 220 g
The European Green Woodpecker is a fairly large woodpecker, with a predominantly green plumage which has given it its name. This is the first thing you notice when confronted with this species. Then it is the vivid red of the head that stands out. The bright green, slightly tinged with yellow, covers the upper body, from the nape to the tail, as well as the coverts. The rump and tail coverts are clearly more yellow. The flight and tail feathers, of grey-brown, are clearly barred with blackish. The underparts are of a grayish white with a yellowish tint that increases in intensity from front to back. Thus, the throat and cheeks are whitish, while the lower abdomen is clearly yellow, but there are individual variations. The feathers of the back of the flanks and the undertail, yellowish and bordered with blackish, give an scaly appearance. The tricoloured head, red, black and white, is remarkable. Both sexes have a vivid red hood that reaches the nape, a black colour on the lores, the eye rim and the moustache, and finally the throat and parotids are whitish. The white iris stands out well on the black cheek. The beak is yellowish or horn, with a dark tip. The small sexual dimorphism of this species is located on the head. The male has a red band in the black moustache, while the female does not. The very clawed legs are brownish or grayish. The juvenile can be easily distinguished from the adult. It is much darker, less green, and its plumage is almost entirely marked with stripes, bars and mottles. The top is of dull green mottled with yellowish-gray. The underside is whitish-gray and is completely barred with blackish and the sides of the head have stripes of the same colour. The red of the cap is not as bright.
Subspecific information 3 subspecies
- Picus viridis viridis (n and c Europe)
- Picus viridis karelini (se Europe to sw Turkmenistan)
- Picus viridis innominatus (sw Iran)
Voice song and cries
The typical call of the European Green Woodpecker is a loud kiak, either isolated or repeated 3 or 4 times. The song is made up of the same note, repeated rapidly on average 10 times and forming a phrase that gradually decreases in volume. Young birds beg at the nest with a continuous che che che, typical of the family.
The European Green Woodpecker is a forest species associated with deciduous wood, but can also be regularly found in mixed forests in the mountains and in the north of its range.
Behaviour character trait
We are drawn by a curious chuckle. A European Green Woodpecker flaps away in a wavy flight, punctuated by distinct kiaks. This is usually how we make our first contact with the species, which is not particularly shy, only discreet when on the ground foraging for food, because of the presence of predators. On the ground is, indeed, where this woodpecker searches for its insect-based diet. In urban areas, it is common to observe it hopping across lawns, completely exposed but still alert to its environment. It is not known to visit winter feeders, like the Eurasian Blue or the Grey, as it isn't interested in the food put out there, particularly seeds.
The flight is typical of the bird family. The European Green Woodpecker alternates between fast and powerful beats and resting phases with its wings folded, which gives it a wavy, fast and direct flight. The flight is usually short and afterwards the woodpecker lands against a trunk or branch. Its short and rounded wings are related to the sedentary lifestyle and arboreal life of the species.
Although very arboreal, the European Green Woodpecker does not seek its food in wood. It feeds on the ground, hopping around looking for ant hills.
Like all woodpeckers, the European Green Woodpecker is hole-nesting for breeding. It uses its powerful, sharp beak to excavate its nesting lodge in soft woods such as willows or poplars, but also fruit trees such as cherries, at a variable height from the trunk (from 2 to more than 10 meters).
The European Green Woodpecker has a quite restricted distribution. It is an essentially European species. Its range extends across the European continent from the Atlantic to the west of Russia to the Volga. All European countries house it, except for the island of Ireland and Spain where the close species, the Sharpe's Woodpecker, is living. In Scandinavia, it is only found in Southern Norway and Sweden. It overflows into Anatolia, reaches the Caucasus and skirts around the Caspian Sea to the south. An isolated population inhabits the Zagros mountains in Iran and northern Iraq. In France, it comes into contact in the eastern Pyrenees with the Sharpe's Woodpecker with which it hybridizes in a restricted area.
Threats - protection
IUCN conservation status
in the Wild
The European Green Woodpecker is a fairly common, non-threatened species.
Sources of information
- IOC World Bird List (v13.2), Gill, F and D Donsker (Eds). 2023.
Translation by AI Oiseaux.net
published: 07-02-2017 - Updated: 12-02-2017
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