Wryneck

Wryneck

Scientific name: Jynx torquilla

Did you know: Wrynecks can twist their heads almost 180 degrees, earning them the nickname “snake-bird” for their unique defensive displays.

What Do Wrynecks Look Like? (how to identify them)

Wrynecks, a petite bird species resembling sparrows in size, flaunt a greyish appearance interwoven with brown and buff mottling. A distinctive dark streak cascades from the back of their head down their spine, setting them apart. 

They predominantly forage on the ground, a rare trait among woodpeckers, and their penchant for ants is noteworthy.

Differences Between Male And Female Wrynecks

Intriguingly, male and female Wrynecks share a striking resemblance, making it a challenge to distinguish between the two based on appearance alone. Their harmonious plumage is a testament to nature’s subtlety.

What Do Wrynecks Eat?

With a diet almost exclusively comprising of ants, Wrynecks have adapted to thrive on these insects. They employ their long tongues adeptly, extracting their prey from decaying wood or almost bare soil, showcasing a unique foraging behaviour unlike their woodpecker cousins.

Where Do Wrynecks Live? (inc. migration info)

Wrynecks favour a variety of habitats, including urban and suburban areas, farmlands, and grasslands. Their migration journey is fascinating, as they breed across Europe and Asia’s higher latitudes and then migrate southward for winter. In the UK, their presence is now primarily noted during migration seasons.

Bird Calls & Songs (the unique voices of Wrynecks)

The voice of the Wryneck is a distinctive nasal tone, reminiscent of woodpecker calls. Their vocal expression includes a series of ‘que’ sounds, initially rapid but gradually slowing, a charming chorus in the European skies.

Fun Wryneck Facts (kid friendly)

  • Wrynecks can twist their necks in a snake-like manner, making them look quite magical.
  • They used to be common in Britain, but now they’re mostly just passing visitors.
  • Their diet is almost exclusively ants – they love them!
  • Unlike other woodpeckers, Wrynecks prefer the ground to tree trunks.
  • These birds use old woodpecker holes for nesting, rather than creating their own.
  • Wrynecks are part of a small group of Old World woodpeckers.
  • Their plumage helps them blend seamlessly into their surroundings.
  • They have a unique way of nesting, preferring cavities and open ground.
  • Wrynecks are known for their unusual threat display, resembling a snake’s movement.
  • They are protected under the UK’s Wildlife and Countryside Act.

Facts About The Wryneck

Diet: Ants.
Bird Family: Woodpeckers
Length: 16-17cm
Wingspan: 25-27cm
Weight: 30-45g
Scientific Name: Jynx torquilla

The Wryneck Can Be Seen In The UK During The Following Months

  • April
  • May
  • August
  • September
  • October

Wryneck 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