The Green Woodpecker is the largest of the three woodpeckers that breed in Britain, and measures 30–36 cm in length with a 45–51 cm wingspan. It has a heavy-looking body, short tail and a strong, long bill. It is greeny-grey on its upperparts with a bright green rump and red on the top of its head. The moustachial stripe has a red centre in the male but is solid black in the female. Juveniles are spotty and streaked all over.
The Green Woodpecker is shy and wary, they climb up tree trunks and branches and will move around to be on the side away from anyone watching. It is usually its loud calls which first draw attention, and it rarely drums on tree trunks, unlike its brethren in the species. Its’ flight is undulating, with 3-4 wingbeats followed by a short glide when the wings are held by the body.
The places to spot Green Woodpeckers are mainly in open deciduous woodland, parks, orchards and farmland in England, Wales and Scotland, although absent from the far north and west and not in N Ireland. It is a resident breeder, and so can be seen all year round.
The principle diet of the Green Woodpecker is Ants, both adults, and lave, it digs them out of the ground with its’ bill, and then licks them up, with its’ long (10cm) and flexible tongue which has barbs on the tip for catching hold of the Ants. The tongue is so long, it has to be curled around inside its skull.
Deciduous & mixed forest edge, woodlands
Status in UK
Conservation Status UK
Number in Britain
Number of broods
Age at First Breeding
Maximum Recorded Age
15 years, 0 months