Belongs to: woodpeckers

Compare with: great spotted woodpecker

Green woodpecker Picus viridis

Also known as: yaffle

BoCC Amber List

Best time to see: all year

Key facts

Large green woodpecker with red cap which nests in woods but feeds on grassland, especially on ants

Habitat: wooded areas with plenty of open ground, such as public parks or farmland with scattered copses

Resident; widespread in suitable habitat


Green upperparts, paler below; red cap and black face, long bill; long looping flight; 30 cm long

Often seen feeding on the ground, digging up ants' nests and picking them up with its long sticky tongue

Has a long ringing call like sarcastic laughter, which has given it its country name of 'yaffle' 


Males challenge one another for territory by swaying and spreading wings and tail

When courting females, males droop their wings and spread their tails, and they sometimes chase one another round trees

Nest is a bare tree hole; one brood of 5-7 white eggs, April to May

© Pat Allen