Green Woodpecker

Green Woodpecker

Scientific name: Picus viridis

Did you know: A Green Woodpecker’s tongue is so long it wraps around its skull to fit inside its head!

What Do Green Woodpeckers Look Like? (how to identify them)

Green Woodpeckers are remarkable for their vibrant and distinctive appearance. They are the largest among Britain’s breeding woodpeckers, with a robust body, a relatively short tail, and a strong, elongated bill. 

Their upper parts dazzle in shades of green, leading to a paler belly and a strikingly bright yellow rump. The cherry on top is the red crown they sport. 

The males are identifiable by a black ‘moustache’ with a red centre, a feature absent in females. In flight, their wings reveal dark green hues, and their distinctive, bouncing flight pattern is complemented by their loud, resonant calls.

Differences Between Male and Female Green Woodpeckers

The most noticeable difference between male and female Green Woodpeckers lies in their facial markings. 

Males boast a red centre in their black moustache, whereas females display a plain black moustache without the red. This subtle yet distinct variation aids birdwatchers in identifying the sexes from a distance.

What Do Green Woodpeckers Eat?

When it comes to diet, Green Woodpeckers have a particular fondness for ants. Their days are often spent digging into ant colonies with their sturdy beaks and feasting on the inhabitants. Their long, sticky tongues are perfect tools for extracting ants and larvae from deep within the ground. 

While ants are their primary food, they occasionally supplement their diet with other invertebrates.

Where Do Green Woodpeckers Live? (inc. migration info)

Green Woodpeckers grace much of England and Wales, though they are notably absent from northern Scotland and Ireland. They prefer environments where trees are abundant for nesting and open grounds for foraging. 

Ideal habitats include woodlands, grasslands, parks, gardens, and even urban areas with green spaces. As for migration, these birds are relatively sedentary, rarely moving far from their breeding sites.

Bird Calls & Songs (the unique voices of Green Woodpeckers)

The vocal expressions of Green Woodpeckers are as distinctive as their appearance. Their ‘laughing’ call is a hallmark of British woodlands, earning them various folk names like yaffle and laughing Betsey. 

Their call, often a series of loud, joyful notes, is a giveaway to their presence. Unlike other woodpecker species, they rarely drum on trees, preferring to vocalise their presence.

Fun Green Woodpecker Facts (kid friendly)

  • Green Woodpeckers can eat up to 2,000 ants in a day!
  • Their tongue is so long, it has to coil behind their skull.
  • Unlike other woodpeckers, they spend a lot of time foraging on the ground.
  • They are known as ‘yaffles’ because of their unique laughing call.
  • Green Woodpeckers rarely drum on trees, which is unusual for woodpeckers.
  • Their bright red crown and yellow rump make them easy to spot.
  • They nest in holes they carve in trees with their beaks.
  • The male Green Woodpecker has a red centre in its black moustache, but the female does not.
  • They are the largest woodpecker species found in the UK.
  • Baby Green Woodpeckers are fed almost exclusively on ants.

Facts About The Green Woodpecker

Diet: Ants, ants, and more ants. They use their strong beak to dig into ant colonies and eat the inhabitants.
Bird Family: Woodpeckers
Length: 30-34cm
Wingspan: 40-42cm
Weight: 180-220g
Scientific Name: Picus viridis

The Green Woodpecker Can Be Seen In The UK During The Following Months

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December

Green Woodpecker Images

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Male
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Female
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Hatchling
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Nestling
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Chick
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Fledgling
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Juvenile