European Green Woodpecker (Picus viridis)

European green woodpecker

The European green woodpecker, or green woodpecker (Picus viridis), is a small to medium-sized bird, the upper parts are black with red-spotted white wing bars and white spots on the tail; the underparts are grey. There are two white bars on the face and an orange patch behind the eye, but no crest.

They both have black beaks. It is often considered the most beautiful of all the woodpeckers in Europe.

Picus viridis is a medium-sized woodpecker species that lives in deciduous forests throughout Europe, Central Asia, and the Middle East. Though the European green woodpecker population has decreased in recent years, it’s still considered to be a common bird and an overall healthy species with little threat of extinction.

They are widely distributed in Europe, west to the Ural Mountains, east to the Yenisei River, and south to the Balkan Peninsula. Its natural habitats are boreal forests, temperate forests, and Mediterranean-type shrubby vegetation, preferring larger woodlands with old trees.


European green woodpecker

The European green woodpecker is a medium-sized woodpecker with striking green plumage. It is found in forests across Europe and Asia, where it feeds on insects. The European green woodpecker is one of the most brightly colored woodpeckers and is a popular bird with birdwatchers.

However, its populations are declining in some parts of its range due to habitat loss. In many countries, this species is threatened by electrocution and collision with power lines. In North America, the European green woodpecker’s population has been declining since the 1940s as they have been killed off by competition from newly introduced North American species such as red-bellied woodpeckers and pileated woodpeckers.

European green woodpecker male

Male European green woodpeckers have a red patch in the middle of their mustache stripe which is absent in females.

European green woodpecker scientific name

The scientific name of the European green woodpecker is Picus viridis.

Habitat & Distribution

The European green woodpecker is found throughout Europe, Asia, and North Africa. In Europe, it is found in most countries except for Iceland, Ireland, Scandinavia, and the Mediterranean islands. In Asia, it is found in Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar Burma), Laos), Cambodia), Thailand), Vietnam), Malaysia), and Indonesia. It has also been spotted in southern Iraq.

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In North Africa, it can be found in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Sudan, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger.

The European green woodpecker is a member of the Picidae family, which includes all woodpeckers, piculets, and wrynecks. The species is distributed across Europe, Russia, and Asia. In the past, the European green woodpecker was classified as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List due to its large range and stable population. However, recent population declines have led to its reclassification as Near Threatened.

European green woodpecker size and weight

European green woodpecker

The European green woodpecker is a small to medium-sized woodpecker. It is between 16 and 18 cm in length and weighs between 50 and 60 g. The males and females are similar in size, but the males have brighter plumage.


The European green woodpecker is a plump bird with a short neck and small head. Its back, wings, and tail are bright green, while its belly is yellow. It has a red crown, white cheeks, and a black stripe running down its neck. Both sexes are similar in appearance, although the male has a redder crown. Juveniles have duller plumage and lack the red crown.


The European green woodpecker molts once a year, typically in the spring. The process takes about six weeks from start to finish. First, it starts to preen the wing and tail feathers that are loosening up and shedding all over its body.

Second, it will begin to look for suitable trees with dead branches or damaged bark that can provide perches while they grow new feathers. Third, while they are unable to fly because of their underdeveloped wings, they will return to feed on insects on the ground where they live which makes them vulnerable prey for predators such as hawks and owls.

Finally, when their new feathers have grown in and the bird is able to fly again, they will move on to find another tree with fresh branches.

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European green woodpecker nesting

The European green woodpecker nests in holes in trees, using its long tongue to reach deep into the crevices to find insects. The female lays four to eight eggs, which hatch after about three weeks. Both parents help care for the young, which fledge after about six weeks.

During the winter, it roosts communally on large branches. In the north of Europe, it is sedentary and breeds in more or less fixed territories year-round; further south, it is migratory and flies southwards in autumn to avoid harsh weather.

Diet and foraging

The European green woodpecker is a highly adaptable bird, able to feed on a wide variety of food items. The majority of its diet consists of ants and other small insects, which it catches by foraging on the ground or in trees.

The woodpecker will also eat berries, fruits, and nuts when they are available. In winter, the bird’s diet shifts to include more acorns and other hard seeds. Like many woodpeckers, this species does not store food for later use; instead, it stores fat in its tail and abdomen to help provide energy throughout the day.

The green woodpecker feeds mainly on insects but also eats nuts, fruit and seeds; it stores surplus food items by hiding them in bark crevices or wedging them into small holes in trees. It will use its beak like a crowbar to open up rotting logs or other sources of carrion for grubs and beetles.

Sounds and vocal behavior

The European green woodpecker is a member of the Picidae family, which includes all woodpeckers, piculets, and wrynecks. The males and females are very similar in appearance. They are mostly green with a white rump and a red cap on their head. Both sexes also have a black line running down their neck. The males have a black mustache, while the females do not.

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The European green woodpecker is found in woods across Europe. It can be seen in deciduous forests, mixed forests, orchards, parks, and gardens. These birds like to live near large trees that provide plenty of cavities for nesting.

They are noisy when they find food as they call out to attract other members of their species to help them share it. These birds produce sounds by drumming with their beak on wood or by banging against tree trunks or branches. Sometimes they use their claws instead of their beaks to make these noises.


The European green woodpecker breeds in forests across Europe. The nest is usually a hole in a tree, lined with leaves and moss. Both parents help to incubate the eggs and care for the young. The young leave the nest after about six weeks.

They remain dependent on their parents for food until they are fully grown at 12-14 months old. They have an average lifespan of five years in the wild. In some countries such as Sweden, up to 80% of nests fail due to predators such as squirrels and jays which raid the nests.

European green woodpecker lifespan

The European green woodpecker typically lives between 5 and 10 years in the wild. However, captive birds have been known to live up to 15 years. The oldest recorded European green woodpecker was 22 years and 3 months old.

Movements and migration

European green woodpecker

The European green woodpecker is a sedentary bird, meaning it does not typically migrate. Instead, it is more likely to move between different habitats within its range in search of food or to find a mate. Sometimes, however, green woodpeckers will make longer journeys if there is a lack of food or suitable habitat in their current location. Climate change may also cause some birds to move to new areas where the conditions are more favorable.

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Population status

The global population is estimated to be between 920,000 and 3,000,000 individuals. The population trend is believed to be stable. They are not considered threatened by the IUCN Red List. They have a large range with an estimated global extent of occurrence of 130,000-280,000 km2; there are a number of subpopulations that may qualify as independent units for assessing conservation status.

There is no evidence of any significant decline in the overall population size or rate of decline based on quantitative data over three generations.

Conservation and management

The European green woodpecker is a bird of prey that lives in forests across Europe. It is a protected species under the Bern Convention and listed as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List. The population is declining due to habitat loss and fragmentation, as well as pesticide use.

Conservation efforts focus on protecting and restoring forest habitats, as well as reducing pesticide use. In addition, captive breeding has been suggested but is not used yet. There are small numbers of these birds in zoos around the world but no plans for any release programs at this time.