Family Woodpeckers (Picidae)

Least Concern

Eurasian Wryneck (Jynx torquilla)


French: Torcol fourmilier German: Wendehals Spanish: Torcecuello euroasiático
Other common names: Northern Wryneck

Jynx Torquilla


, 1758,

Europe = Sweden


Closely related to J. ruficollis. Several additional races described from Asia, but geographical variation largely clinal, also somewhat random, and individual variation notable, with much overlap in characters, and all are considered better lumped with nominate race: birds breeding from Ural Mts to R Yenisey named as sarudnyi on basis of paler plumage with fewer markings below, and others farther E and in China as race chinensis on basis of more barred plumage, but both populations contain individuals closely resembling or identical to W birds; Japanese birds described as japonica, more barred and with more rufous in plumage, but some are identical to W (including European) breeders. Four subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • J. t. torquilla Linnaeus, 1758 – most of Eurasia except parts of S; winters in Iberian Peninsula, Balearic Is, Africa and S Asia#R#R#R.
  • J. t. tschusii O. Kleinschmidt, 1907 – Corsica, Sardinia, Italy and E Adriatic coast; winters in S Italy, and Africa.
  • J. t. mauretanica Rothschild, 1909 – NW Africa.
  • J. t. himalayana Vaurie, 1959 – NW Himalayas (N Pakistan E to Himachal Pradesh); winters to S, at lower altitudes.
  • Descriptive notes

    16–18 cm; c. 30–50 g. Small, aberrant, long-tailed woodpecker with short, pointed bill very narrow across nostrils. Both sexes have forehead to hindneck pale grey... read more


    Song slightly ascending series of 8–15 “kwia” notes, sometimes raucous, similar... read more


    Open forest, clearings, woodland with low undergrowth, wooded pasture, and unimproved meadowland... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diet mostly ants, mainly larvae and pupae; other insects include e.g. small beetles, aphids (Aphididae), Lepidoptera, dipteran flies, bugs... read more


    Lays in May–Jun; in S of range, second clutch sometimes laid in Jun, rarely Jul, occasionally third brood attempted. Territorial;... read more


    Largely migratory. European and W Asian populations move to W, C & E Africa, E populations to... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). European population estimated at c. 382,000 pairs, of which most in E, including c. 158,000 in Russia; 45,000 in Spain, probably 5000... read more

    Recommended citation

    Winkler, H., Christie, D.A. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Eurasian Wryneck (Jynx torquilla). 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 11 December 2019).