Green Woodpecker measures 30-36 cm in length with a 45-51 cm wingspan. Both sexes are green above and pale yellowish green below, with yellow rump and red crown and nape; the moustachial stripe has a red centre in the male but is solid black in the female. The lores and around the white eye are black in both male and female, except in the Iberian race P. v. subsp. sharpei, in which it is dark grey and males have only a lower black border to the moustache. Juveniles are spotty and streaked all over. The moustache is dark initially, though juvenile males can show some red feathers by early June or usually by July or August.

Habitat and Distribution

Most of the range of the Green Woodpecker is in Europe. Over half of the European population is thought to be in France, Spain and Germany, with substantial numbers also in Portugal, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Russia, Croatia, Romania and Bulgaria. It also occurs in western Asia. Their preffered habitats include semi-open landscapes with small woodlands, hedges, scattered old trees, edges of forests and floodplain forests and grassland.


The main food of the European Green Woodpecker is ants of the genera Lasius and Formica for which it spends much of its time foraging on the ground, though insects and small reptiles are also taken occasionally.


Their nesting hole is larger but similar to those of other woodpeckers. It may be a few feet above the ground or at the top of a tall tree; Oaks, Beeches, Willows and fruit trees are the preferred nest trees in western and central Europe, and Aspens in the north. The hole may be excavated in sound or rotten wood. There is a single brood of four to six white eggs. After the last egg is laid, they are incubated for 19-20 days by both parents taking shifts of between 1.5 to 2.5 hours.

Calls and Songs

It 'drums' rarely (a soft, fast roll), but often gives a noisy 'ky?-ky?-ky?ck' while flying. The song is a loud series of 10-18 'kl?' sounds which gets slightly faster towards the end and falls slightly in pitch. The female makes a thinner 'p?-p?-p?-p?-p?-p?-p?'.