Green Woodpecker - Picus viridis, click for a larger image, photo licensed for reuse
Photo ©2010 - Andrei Stroe

Green Woodpecker - Picus viridis
Family - Picidae

Found throughout most of Europe except in the more northerly regions, resident within an area during the mating season, but roams widely otherwise, preferring orchards, open woods and parkland.  Can be hard to find in spite of it's size and colourful plumage, preferring to hide behind a tree trunk when disturbed or sometimes flying off.

Male ♂ and female ♀ both contribute to nest construction which takes about two weeks, usually by creating a hole in a rotting tree trunk, the source of the woodpecker's familiar "knocking" sound.  A brood of six to eight white eggs that hatch in about 18 days having been incubated by both parents in turn, the young leave the nest site after a further 18 to 20 days.  Green Woodpeckers feed on wood beetle larvae, ants and ant larvae (by breaking open the ant's nest) and occasionally raids beehives during the winter.

The Green Woodpecker is the largest and heaviest of the British Woodpeckers growing to between 30-38cm (12-15in).  Green wings having black edge feathers with small white stripes / spots.  It has the long thin beak characteristic of all woodpeckers, a red head and cheek flashes and a white neck.  It's body colour varies from the white neck to a mottled grey at the tail feathers.  Strong legs and feet with a spiky tail for support enable the bird to climb and cling to the trunk of a tree whilst it constructs a nest hole or forages for food.

The Green Woodpecker is an Amber list species of medium conservation concern and unfavourable conservation status in Europe.

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