Family Woodpeckers (Picidae)

Least Concern

Rufous-necked Wryneck (Jynx ruficollis)


French: Torcol à gorge rousse German: Rotkehl-Wendehals Spanish: Torcecuello africano
Other common names: Red-throated Wryneck, Rufous-breasted Wryneck

Jynx ruficollis


, 1830,

Uitenhage, Eastern Cape Province, South Africa


Closely related to J. torquilla. Cameroon birds sometimes separated as race thorbeckei on basis of more completely barred throat, but this feature occurs also in E populations of pulchricollis. Birds from N Angola sometimes separated as race pectoralis and those from E Angola as diloloensis (type from Moxico)#R, but both are indistinguishable from nominate; proposed race cosensi (Kenya, Tanzania) also included in nominate. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • J. r. aequatorialis Rüppell, 1842 – Ethiopia.
  • J. r. pulchricollis Hartlaub, 1884 – SE Nigeria and Cameroon to NW DRCongo, South Sudan and NW Uganda.
  • J. r. ruficollis Wagler, 1830 – SE Gabon to SW & E Uganda, SW Kenya and extreme N Tanzania, and S to N & E Angola (S to Cuanza Norte and Malanje, E to Moxico), NW Zambia, N Mozambique and E South Africa.
  • Descriptive notes

    19 cm; male 52–59 g, female 46–52 g. Small, aberrant, long-tailed woodpecker with short, pointed bill. Both sexes have lores and ear-coverts barred buff-white and... read more


    Sings from dead tree, loud, high “kwik-kwik-kwik-kwik-kwik-kwik, kwee kwee kwee” or... read more


    Inhabits wooded grassland, open forest and forest edge, as well as open areas with trees.... read more

    Food and feeding

    Mainly ants and their pupae and eggs; also some other small arthropods. Gleans items from the bark of dead branches of trees, also from... read more


    Eggs May in Ethiopia; Apr in Gabon; in Angola, adult in breeding condition in Aug, juvenile seen in Sept; possibly Feb in Uganda; breeds... read more


    Largely resident, but dispersive, and perhaps somewhat nomadic. Movements not well understood;... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Locally common, but often irregular in occurrence. Range in former Zaire more widespread than often stated in literature. Not... read more

    Recommended citation

    Winkler, H., Christie, D.A. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Rufous-necked Wryneck (Jynx ruficollis). 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 24 January 2020).