Family Woodpeckers (Picidae)

Least Concern

Eurasian Green Woodpecker (Picus viridis)


French: Pic vert German: Grünspecht Spanish: Pito real euroasiático
Other common names: European Green Woodpecker, Green Woodpecker

Picus viridis


, 1758,

Europe = Sweden


Usually considered conspecific with P. sharpei and P. vaillantii, but differs from former in having face black (on lores, supercilium to above eye, ocular area, moustachial area and in thin line around red malar) vs very little or no black on face (so that face grey with red crown and red malar) (3); red on crown broader, and black of lores and supercilium extending to cover postocular superciliary area and thus adjacent to ear-coverts vs narrower red area allowing a grey-green supercilium to continue over eye and also ear-coverts  (2), iris whiter and thus much more contrasting (white in black face vs pale brown in grey face) (1); ear-coverts, neck and breast light green with no grey wash (ns[1]); no black subterminal bars on grey-based red-tipped crown feathers (ns[1]); significant vocal differences involving patterns of dominant frequency and acceleration of the advertising-call (“song”)#R (2); narrow zone of intergradation in S France#R#R (2); differs from vaillantii in red vs black malar on male (3), lack of whitish line along top edge of malar (2), red vs dark-streaked grey forehead and crown of female (2). Has hybridized with P. canus in C Europe#R. Race karelini intergrades with nominate. Race innominatus recently suggested as possibly a separate species on basis of genetic evidence, but plumage differences between it and nominate involve only subtle colour variations#R. Other proposed races are pluvius (Britain), frondium (C Europe), pronus (Italy), dofleini (Macedonia), romaniae (Romania) and saundersi (Caucasus), all of which exhibit insignificant differences which fall within range of variation of other races. Additional named form bampurensis, known only from type locality in R Bampur Basin in SE Iran (where species no longer survives), said to have particularly well-marked tailbars and heavy barring over entire lower underparts; validity and possible survival of this isolated form require further investigation. Three subspecies recognized.

What do (1) and (2) mean? Learn more about the scoring system.
Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. v. viridis Linnaeus, 1758 – Europe from Britain and S Scandinavia E to W Russia, S to France, N Balkans and Black Sea.
  • P. v. karelini J. F. Brandt, 1841 – Italy E to Bulgaria, Asia Minor, Caucasus, N Iran and SW Turkmenia.
  • P. v. innominatus (Zarudny & Loudon, 1905) – extreme NE Iraq and SW Iran (Zagros Mts).
  • Descriptive notes

    31–33 cm; 138–250 g (viridis). Male has bright red forehead to nape, usually some grey feather bases visible, especially on crown; black nasal tufts,... read more


    Most calls are “kyack” or “kewk” and variations, singly or as regular or... read more


    Great variety of semi-open habitats; confined to larger open sections or clearings in extensively... read more

    Food and feeding

    Predominantly ants, chiefly meadow-dwelling species of genera Formica (winter) and Lasius (spring to autumn); generally,... read more


    Laying from early Apr, locally Mar, to Jun; calling commences much earlier, in Dec. Male feeds female during courtship, e.g. prior to... read more


    Essentially resident; some local winter movements. Continental European populations disperse on... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Common to very common throughout much of its range, but local in some parts (e.g. Turkey). Population estimates in 1980s and 1990s... read more

    Recommended citation

    Winkler, H. & Christie, D.A. (2020). Eurasian Green Woodpecker (Picus viridis). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 27 January 2020).