Most beautiful small birds - Sykalo Eugen 2024

Grey-headed Woodpecker (Picus canus)


  • Species name: Grey-headed Woodpecker
  • Scientific name: Picus canus
  • Family: Picidae (Woodpeckers)
  • Order: Piciformes (Woodpeckers)
  • Subclass: Neornithes (Modern birds)
  • Class: Aves (Birds)


  • Size: Medium-sized woodpecker, about 25-26 cm (9.8-10.2 in) long with a wingspan of 38-40 cm (15-16 in).
  • Body shape: Stocky and compact, with a strong neck, a long, straight chisel-like beak, and a stiff tail used for support while drumming.
  • Plumage color:

Males: Grey head and upperparts with black streaks, greenish back and wings, yellowish rump, red patch on forehead, black moustache stripe, pale grey underparts.

Females: Similar to males but without the red forehead patch and less defined moustache stripe.

Black legs.

Dark eyes.

  • Beak: Long, straight, and strong, well-suited for excavating wood and capturing insects.


  • Method of feeding: Primarily insectivorous, drumming on trees to flush out hidden larvae and probing holes with their long beaks. Also eats fruit and sap.
  • Reproduction: Builds cavities in dead trees. Lays 4-7 glossy white eggs. Both parents care for the young.
  • Movement: Resident in most of its range, with some local dispersal in response to food availability.
  • Communication: Loud tapping and drumming sounds, along with high-pitched calls and rattles. Males have a complex song for defending territory and attracting mates.


  • Habitat: Deciduous and mixed forests, woodlands, parks, and gardens.
  • Diet: Insects (larvae and adults), fruit, sap.
  • Hunting methods: Drums on trees to flush out insects, then probes holes with its long beak. May also glean insects from leaves and branches.

Distribution: Found across Europe, Asia, and North Africa.

The Grey-headed Woodpecker — that industrious tap-dancer on the bark of European and Asian trees, a feathered drummer with a crown of silver. This seemingly common resident might appear like a simple wood-tapper at first glance, but beneath its grey hood and persistent drumming lies a treasure trove of fascinating facts and adaptations that will leave you enthralled by this avian architect and percussionist of the woods:

Masters of Excavation: Forget ordinary beaks; the Grey-headed Woodpecker possesses a powerful chisel-like tool. They pound with impressive force and precision, drilling deep holes into trees in search of hidden grubs and insects. Imagine them as feathered jackhammers with built-in miniature bulldozers!

Hidden Feasting Technique: Don't underestimate their sticky prowess! The Grey-headed Woodpecker's tongue is long, barbed, and sticky, perfectly adapted for reaching deep into crevices and extracting unsuspecting prey. Their tongues even vibrate like feathered fishing rods, luring out buried bugs with irresistible tremors!

Unexpected Opportunistic Feast Hunters: Their diet isn't just wood-dwelling bugs. Grey-headed Woodpeckers are adaptable omnivores, readily taking advantage of seasonal bounty. From berries and fruits to sap and even the occasional lizard, their varied menu keeps them fueled for their energetic tapping sessions. Think of them as feathered gourmands with built-in miniature buffets!

Unexpected Acrobatic Talents: Their movements are nothing short of impressive. Grey-headed Woodpeckers scale tree trunks with surprising agility, clinging to branches with ease and maneuvering through dense foliage with surprising dexterity. Picture them as feathered parkour experts with built-in mini climbing gear!

Hidden Communicators: Forget solitary drumming; Grey-headed Woodpeckers engage in complex percussive communication. Their rapid taps vary in rhythm and duration, conveying territorial messages, attracting mates, and even deterring predators. Talk about avian Morse code with built-in amplified drums!

Symbiotic Symphony: Grey-headed Woodpeckers play a vital role in the forest ecosystem. By excavating holes in trees, they create nesting cavities for themselves and other bird species, fostering biodiversity and contributing to the vibrant tapestry of life in the woods. These feathered architects contribute to the flourishing of many creatures.

Cultural Charmers: In some European and Asian cultures, the Grey-headed Woodpecker is associated with good luck, perseverance, and the power of nature. Its persistent drumming and industrious nature inspire awe and respect, making it a treasured symbol of the region's resilient forests.

Unexpected Tool Users: Did you know? Recent research suggests Grey-headed Woodpeckers might be smarter than we thought! They have been observed using twigs and sticks as tools to pry open stubborn seeds and even manipulate objects to reach hidden treats. Talk about feathered MacGyvers with built-in pocket toolkits!