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European green woodpecker


The green woodpecker reaches a length of 32 centimeters and has a wingspan of up to 52 centimeters. The upperpart is dark green, the underpart is pale light to gray-green in colour. The sides of the head are marked by a black facial mask that extends from the beak to behind the eyes. The top of the head and the nape of the neck are red, the rump is greenish-yellow. The ear area, chin and throat, on the other hand, are whitish. The wings are brown-black, yellowish or brownish-white spotted. The rectrix are blackish banded on a greenish-gray ground. The differences between the sexes are slight, in the male the cheek patch is red with a black edge, in the female this cheek patch is solid black. The eyes of the green woodpecker are bluish-white, and the beak and feet are lead-gray. Males and females are the same size and weight. 

The juvenile plumage differs greatly from adult plumage, being distinctly duller overall. The sides of the head, neck and underparts are heavily dark spotted to banded on an almost white ground. The red parts of the head colouration are inconspicuous and mostly interspersed with gray spots. The wings and the upperparts also show a distinct white mottling.
In Central Europe, the European green woodpecker can only be confused with the somewhat smaller but otherwise very similar gray woodpecker. Unlike the green woodpecker, however, the grey woodpecker has a gray head, a dark red eye, and only a narrow black chin stripe. The grey woodpecker also lacks the red crest of the green woodpecker, only the male has a red forehead, while the female lacks a red head mark. Often already the place of observation gives clues for species identification, the grey woodpecker is missing in the northwest of Central Europe and is much more bound to mountains and to forest compared to the green woodpecker.


It prefers semi-open landscapes with extensive old woods, especially forest edges, copses, meadows, parks, groves and large gardens with trees. Within extensive woodlands, it only occurs in heavily cleared areas, forest meadows and larger clearings. The species shows a strong preference for deciduous forests; in extensive coniferous forests it can be very rare or absent over large areas.

Due to its strong specialization on ground-dwelling ants, the green woodpecker is susceptible to severe winters with high snow levels. Its main distribution area is therefore the lowlands and the lower altitudes of the low mountain ranges up to an altitude of about 500 m above sea level.

In the Alpine region, this limitation of distribution with regard to sea level does not exist. In the Bavarian Pre-Alps and Alps, the Green Woodpecker inhabits all altitudes from 600 to 1400 m above sea level quite evenly and has been recorded up to 1700 m above sea level.

The text is a translation of an excerpt from Wikipedia (https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grünspecht). On wikipedia the text is available under a „Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike“ licence. Status: 17 December 2021