|Photo by Alex Auer (Nature Photo CZ)|
wryneck (en); torcicolo (pt); torcol fourmilier (fr); torcecuello (es); wendehals (de)
During the breeding season this species is present throughout Europe, with the exceptions of Ireland and Iceland. They also breed along the southern regions of Russia, all the way to the Pacific coast. In Asia they are also present in northern China and Mongolia. An isolated population breeds in the Kashmir region both in India and China. The European population winters in Africa, along the Sahel belt, south of the Sahara. The Asian populations winter in the southeast of the continent, from India in the west, through Myanmar and Thailand, and into southern China. The populations in northern Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia are resident and stay in that region all year round.
This small woodpecker averages 17 cm in length and has a wingspan of 26 cm. Males and females are similar in size and weigh around 38 g.
The wryneck mostly uses woodland and farmland, avoiding steppes, deserts, mountains and wetlands. It does not favour dense or tall forests, preferring fringes, open woodlands, clearings, or, especially, parks, orchards, cemeteries and large gardens. Prefers deciduous to coniferous trees, and is less interested in trunks than in branches, often fairly close to ground. During migration these birds can use a variety of sandy habitats, even deserts, where they forage on ants. While wintering, these birds can be found in broad-leaved or thorn scrubland, semi-desert, and cultivations.
Feeds almost exclusively on ants, both adults and larvae. Uses its long, glutinous tongue to remove the ants from their holes.
Wrynecks usually nest in a natural hole in a tree, but they will also make use of holes in walls and nest boxes. They lay up to 10 pale grey-green eggs, most commonly in May, which are incubated by the female for 12-14 days. The chicks are fed ants by both parents and fledge about 3 weeks after hatching.
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
The species has a very wide range, and a global population of over 5 million individuals. Although the population may be suffering a small decline, there are no significant threats afecting its survival at present.