Grey-headed Woodpecker/Picus canus - Female

Grey-headed Woodpecker/Picus canus - Photographer: Sergey Panayotov
Grey-headed Woodpecker/Picus canus - Photographer: Светослав Спасов
Grey-headed Woodpecker/Picus canus - Photographer: Светослав Спасов
Grey-headed Woodpecker/Picus canus - Photographer: Иван Иванов

L 27-30 cm. Breeds in several quite different habitats, e.g. in swamp-forests along rivers and lakeshores with plenty of insect-rich decayed deciduous trees; in open or park-like mature deciduous forest; in open woodland in uplands (often to 600 m, at times higher) and with good coniferous element. Food insects, often ants. Nest-entrance diameter c. 5½ cm.
IDENTIFICATION: Between Green and White-backed Woodpeckers in size, but confusable of course only with former. Compared with Green, the head is slightly smaller and more rounded, this reinforced by the slightly shorter and more slender bill (‘kinder’ appearance), the different, more uniform grey head pattern with less black around eye (only lores black) which is amber-coloured, the narrower dark stripe on chin-side, also red crown patch restricted to forecrown (male) or no red at all on crown (female). Back is moss-green (lacks Green Woodpecker’s yellow-green tone), underparts unvermiculated light grey (with hint of green), not yellow-tinged. - Juvenile: Very like adult, only somewhat more subdued colours.
VOICE: When agitated, series of choking ‘chk’. Song a series of 6-9 mechanical-sounding whistles which gradually drop in pitch, ‘kii kii küü küü, küü, kuu’, and often slow down markedly after fast opening; easy to imitate by whistling; lacks Green Woodpecker’s laughing, almost bubbling tone, sounds more desolate. Drums more often than Green, rolls loud and rather fast, c. 1½ sec. long.

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