Everything has it's beauty, but not everyone sees it. - Confucius
Sometimes the picture doesn't have to be perfect; it's the captured moment that counts. - me
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Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Green Woodpecker

Picus viridis

The Green Woodpecker is the largest of the three woodpeckers that breed in Britain,
and its loud laughing call has earned it the country name of the 'Yaffle'.

My usual view of this bird is,

It has a heavy-looking body, green mantle and wings, yellowish rump and whitish underparts.  The crown and nape are red, with a black marking around the white eye.

Females can be told from males by their completely black moustache and smaller eye-patch. Males have a streak of red along their black moustaches.

The tail is short, blackish with green barring, the bill is strong, and grey-black.

The legs are olive-grey.

Juveniles are copiously streaked and barred on the face, neck and underparts. Also, their upperparts are greyer with scattered pale spots and the moustache is speckled.

 They resemble adults after moulting in August-November.

They have an undulating flight, and will climb up tree trunks and branches, and move around to be on the side away from anyone watching.

As with other woodpeckers, the stiff tail feathers are used as a prop when it is clinging to a tree and its toes are specially arranged with two pointing forwards and two backwards.

They are a woodland bird and feed on insects, such as ants, beetles and caterpillars, by extracting them from crevices in trees with their long sticky tongue. The tongue of the Green Woodpecker is so long (10cm) it has to be curled round its skull. The tongue, which is armed with barbs at the end, is used for extracting ants. 
They are often seen feeding on ants on the ground, in garden lawns and pastures.

A handsome bird

To finish, a short video clip of a juvenile, taken at my local lake.


More birds from around the world can be seen at Springmans WBW



  1. Great explanation and photos Keith. Very informative.

  2. That is a cool looking bird. The second photo is striking leaving no doubt as to how he came by his name. Very nice.

  3. Now that is fantastic...........I now look like the Incredible Hulk....well without the split T shirt.
    wonderful and thanks.

  4. What an interesting looking bird! I've never seen a green woodpecker!

  5. Thanks John. I enjoyed doing this post.

    Sinbad and I on the Loose; thank you. :-)
    They're lovely birds to find.

    Thanks Adrian. :-)

    Thank you Gail. They've had a good breeding year here this year.

  6. A wonderful post Keith.
    Your images are superb.
    I see Greens on my patch but they are very nervy so it's usually from a distance.

  7. That description of the barbed tongue curling around the head could fit our hairy woodpecker, even the slighly demented look. Boom & Gary of the Vermilon river, Canada.

  8. HI Keith...Love this post ...it is such a striking bird !!
    The tree peek photo I like for it's comical thought of not being seen!!
    I also like the second because of it pretty colors!

  9. A great post Keith, very informative and excellent images. [;o)

  10. Thanks Andrew. They're one of the most nervous birds I know. A nightmare to get close to.

    Thanks Gary. They are a very similar looking bird.

    Thank you Grace. Yea, they're comical when they hide behind trees like that.

    Thanks Trevor. :-)

    Modesto, thank you :-)

  11. wow !!! this pics are fantastic, thank you for sharing, big hugh Kathrin have a savety time !!!!

  12. Well done Keith, beautiful photos and comments with it. I hope the little Greenie is quite pleased with that.

  13. What a brilliant post Keith, the pictures are fantastic and I love how you have syncronised them with the text.
    As in the begining of your post, my few sightings of Green Woodpeckers have been as they flew away.

  14. Thanks Bob :-)

    Thank you woodpecker. Yea, my usual view, as they fly away lol

    Bengts, thank you :-)

  15. I'm jealous. I've seen a fair number but I'd have been happy with your first shot - all mine have flown into the trees too quickly for me to even get the lens cap off. A great series.

  16. I understand that these guys are rather elusive, so you have done very well with your shots.
    They kind of remind me of our Flickers.

  17. Well, I don't know what to say - wonderful!!!!! It's such a lovely bird, and your photos are great!

  18. Great close-ups of the birds and I liked your descriptions of the different patterns and plumage on the birds.

  19. As always I enjoy very much this rich information and beautiful pictures and video.

  20. A grand day indeed, they are absolutely exquisite birds. I particularly like the juvenile, bless his spotty little heart, watching him was delightful.

  21. What a beautiful bird to concentrate your skills on. The head is so outsized it almost resembles a kingfisher! Excellent, beautifully photographed study.
    Cheers to you good Sir!

  22. spectacular looking bird! love the green color. just really 'bandit' faced in maturity. :)

  23. I love this bird..its so colorful and that white eye makes it very distinct looking!! Great photos Keith!

  24. Thanks for this fascinating look at a beautiful bird.

  25. What a marvelous post! WOW... a green woodpecker... don't think we have this one in the US... (am a novice birder myself). I love learning about new and unusual (to me) birds so thoroughly enjoyed this post... great video too!

  26. Beautiful bird, wish we had this bird in Canada.

  27. That's a good-looking bird. Good job getting photos of it while it sidles away.

  28. Thanks Scriptor. They're pretty quick with the exit usually.

    Thanks Robin. I'm sure they have built in radar, to detect people with cameras lol

    Joo, thank you :-)

    Thank you Mick

    Marias, thank you.

    Thank you Gemel :-)

    Thanks Springman, glad you enjoyed it.

    Theresa, thank you. :-)

    Thanks Sondra :-)

    Linda, thank you :-)

    Thank you Victoria :-)

    Thanks Horst

    JoLynne, thank you :-)

  29. Gorgeous photos of this Beauty!
    One I yet have to get to see.
    And why in the heck did I think the whole time you were in the US?!
    Must be the sun *sigh*

  30. Very interesting bird. I`ve never seen, maybe don`t exist here.

  31. Great series! I once saw this woodpecker here, they are beautiful!!

  32. Hi there - great set of pictures. Used to have these on the fields around my house in the south Lakes. Not a woodpecker to be found in Australia, which is a shame, so I just look at yours!

    Cheers - Stewart M

  33. A wonderful post indeed! All three, male, female and juvenile are such handsome birds with beautiful colours and markings and the video is just the cream on the cake. Thank you.

  34. Superb lot of images Keith and you did well to get some video of one.

  35. Interesting series of photos and very well narrated! Quite a pretty woodpecker, different from any here, but reminds me a little of our Flicker, gleaning ants from the earth. I always enjoy learning about birds from faraway. ~karen

  36. ...wonderful post, Keith. I see they go after ants and bugs in the soil (in addition to those in trees) like our Northern Flickers. Loved seeing that in the video. (The shot where he's half hidden behind the tree is very cool!)

  37. Thanks Nicole.
    I wouldn't mind going to the US lol

    Thanks Kozma. I'm not sure if they are in your area.

    fjällripan, thank you.

    Cheers Stewart. You have plenty of other birds to make up for it though :-)

    Thank you Arija.

    Thanks Roy

    Karen, thank you. Similar behaviour with the ants.

    Thanks Kelly :-)

  38. Awesome overview of the species, thank you!

  39. I love Woodpeckers and this is a gorgeous one! I have learned a lot about him from your excellent photos and text! Nice video of the juvenile too!

  40. Thank you Pat. Glad you enjoyed it.

  41. this woodpecker is gorgeous to se in flight when it shows of the yellow on it´s back. Nice to see the juvie. Havn´t seen any in Sweden.

  42. What a fantastic bird, Keith! Gorgeous shots. Love the video.

  43. Excellent images and info on this very interesting woodpecker!
    I agree with Robin...reminds me of the Flickers here in the states.

  44. Woodpeckers are one of my favorite species and this one is outstanding! It looks like a combination of our Northern flickers and our Red-bellied woodpeckers! Our flickers behave the most like your green woodpecker and the males also have a mustache. Thanks for a look at this very cool bird!

  45. NatureFootstep, thank you. :-)

    Hilke, thank you. :-)

    Thank you Jean :-)

    Thanks Kathie. :-)

  46. I love the first shot with the outstretched wings!
    Wonderful post in image and word!

  47. That Woodpecker is very beautiful. Great photos.

  48. Thank you Carletta :-)

    Thanks Neil :-)

    Fotokarusellen, thank you :-)

  49. I loved the background on the this woodpecker ... he is so handsome and colorful! Good captures!

  50. Thanks Reena, glad you enjoyed it.

  51. I might (go to the US), with a bit of Luck.
    I let you know how it is :P

  52. Brilliant shots of the Woodpecker Keith. I have never managed to see one on the ground let alone photograph one.

  53. Thanks Trevor. I got really lucky with the close ups of the juvenile.

  54. What a gorgeous bird! Great shots as usual.

  55. Thanks JM. They're very wary though lol

  56. Quality stuff Keith, I am jealous I haven't seen a green woodpecker yet!! Well done great video and pictures.

  57. Thanks Bob. I got lucky with the juvenile; they usually see me coming a mile off.