The Kennedy Wild Bird Food Guide to the Green Woodpecker

The European green woodpecker, less commonly known by its scientific name, Picus Viridis, is one of three woodpecker birds that are known to breed in the UK, where there are thought to be 52,000 green woodpecker pairs!

green woodpecker look like

In this Kennedy Wild Bird Food guide, you’ll discover everything there is to know about this intriguing bird, along with some interesting green woodpecker facts! You can even find out why it has a tendency to peck!

What does a green woodpecker look like?

The green woodpecker is, of course, green, with a strong and long beak, but there are many more interesting features to this bird’s appearance. The upper parts of its body are dark green, while its belly and chest are much paler. You’ll also notice it has a distinct hairstyle, with the top of its head being red – male green woodpeckers even have a red moustache! 

Female green woodpeckers vary slightly in appearance as their ‘moustache’ is completely black. A juvenile green woodpecker can be identified by its spotted and scaled body, with hints of green starting to appear as the bird matures. Take a look at the pictures below of an adult male green woodpecker (left) and juvenile green woodpecker (right).

Adult male green woodpecker

adult green woodpecker

Juvenile green woodpecker

Juvenile Green Woodpecker

What do green woodpeckers eat?

If you’re wondering, “do woodpeckers eat ants?”, then the answer is yes – they do! Green woodpeckers use their strong beaks to break into ant colonies and feed on them. They will also feed on other small insects occasionally.

Behaviour and habitat of the green woodpecker

75% of European green woodpeckers can actually be found in Europe, with some known to visit western Asia. 

The green woodpecker’s call

Have a listen to the clip below to see if you’ve heard the green woodpecker’s call before!

Why do woodpeckers peck?

The European green woodpecker pecks holes in wood for a few reasons:

  • To build a nest for their young. Green woodpeckers are known to peck away to safely build nests within tree trunks.
  • To hunt for food within the wood, like their favourites – ants!
  • To establish their territory or attract other woodpeckers. 

Green woodpecker nests

The male (for the most part) will work for 15 – 30 days to peck into the wood, creating an entrance hole of 60mm x 75mm and a depth up to 150mm wide and 400mm deep. A single brood can lay anything between four and six white eggs. Once their nest has been built, it can be used by different pairs for up to ten years or more!

Where to find a green woodpecker in the UK

Green woodpeckers are residents in England, Wales and Scotland all year round, but, unfortunately, they’re not known to visit Ireland or the far north-west of Scotland.

If you have short grass in your garden, you might be able to attract a green woodpecker due to the feeding opportunities there. You might also spot the green woodpecker in flight! A green woodpecker in flight is truly a sight to behold and you’ll easily notice its striped wings elegantly gliding through the air.

If you’re looking to attract beautiful birds like the green woodpecker to your garden, grab one of our much-loved bird feeders and stock it with some of their favourite bird food. Don’t forget to check out our other A-Z bird guides to discover what certain species of birds like to eat, along with even more interesting bird facts about our feathered friends.