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Green woodpecker (Picus viridis)

A brightly coloured woodpecker, it is often seen hopping along lawns where it is searching for its favourite prey, ants.

Common name: green woodpecker

Scientific name: Picus viridis

Family: Picidae (wrynecks and woodpeckers)


Head: dominant red crown, with black colouring around the eye and pale green cheeks. The strong, long bill is black in colour. The colouration of this bird’s moustache distinguishes the sexes as the male bird has red and the female black. 

Wings: green in colour.

Body: the upper body displays a green plumage, while the underparts are grey and the rump is yellow. 

Where to spot

Throughout England and Wales but they are not present in Ireland and most of Scotland. The green woodpecker is often seen in parks, gardens and open areas such as farmland or orchards.


Its main prey is ants and they use their long tongue to extract them from the ground.


From March to June the female bird will lay a clutch of four to six eggs. This species creates its nest in a large tree by making a hollow. The chicks will fledge at around 21 days old.


  • The green woodpecker is the largest of the woodpecker species to be found in the UK.
  • Its call is a distinguishable laugh which often alerts people to its presence.
  • As its main prey is ants it spends large amounts of time searching for prey on the ground and can be seen hopping along in its characteristic style.