I am constantly adding photos and text. Please get in touch if you would like to contribute or notice any errors. Email: adminwoodpeckersofeurope.info
In Greek and Roman mythology, Picus was a man turned into a woodpecker by the fabled sorceress Circe. His crime? He scorned her love. His wife was Canens, a nymph, and she killed herself after Picus was transformed. Picus became the god of fortune and prophecy.
This site is dedicated to the ten species of woodpecker Picidae that breed in Europe: nine resident species and the migratory Wryneck. Eight of these ten species also occur outside Europe, with the distribution of Three-toed, White-backed, Lesser Spotted, Great Spotted, Black and Grey-headed Woodpeckers stretching eastwards from the western Palearctic region into Asia, whilst Syrian is found in the Middle East and Asia Minor and Wryneck winters in Africa. The global ranges of Green and Middle Spotted Woodpeckers are more limited being confined to the Western Palearctic.
Above: Female Great Spotted Woodpecker with tongue protruding. Hungary (Lászlo Nehézy)
So why woodpeckers? Firstly they occur in woodlands and forests and these places are my favourite landscapes and habitats. Secondly, finding and observing woodpeckers is a challenge. One can enter a woodland where one knows there are woodpeckers, search for hours, and see none. Before one can watch and study woodpeckers one has to first find them, and that is a major part of the appeal of this bird family. The walking, waiting, searching, listening and the identification of the signs that woodpeckers leave, is for me as much of the appeal as observing these fascinating birds themselves. Woodpeckers, like owls and other forest birds, often require some effort to find and observe. Some species, like Black, Great Spotted and Middle Spotted, can usually be found without too much effort if one visits the right habitat in the right regions, but to locate others, such as the rare White-backed and the often unobtrusive Three-toed, some time, birding skill, local expertise and often some fortune is needed.
I would like to think that both casual and serious birders, field and laboratory ornithologists, researchers, woodland conservationists and foresters will all be able to appreciate and use these pages. But there is much to do. What you see now is just a start.Please contribute, with comments, notes and photographs. All contributions will be acknowledged.
Sincere thanks to the following who have already contributed in various ways: Zoltán Baczo, Dan Bastaja, Bill Baston, Frantisek Bednar, Göran Ekström, Dominic Gorman, Paul Harris, Szabolcs Kókay, Mati Kose, Thomas Kraft, Petr Machacek, Pál Marik, Juozas Miskinis, László Nehézy, Allan Gudio Nielsen, László Novák, Balázs Kárman, Georges Olioso, Jari Peltomaki, Daniel Petrescu, Jean-Marc Pons, Dave Pullan, András Schmidt, Ingvar Stenberg, Gábor Vasuta and the late Lászlo Szabó-Szeley.
Finally, please do NOT lift text or photographs off this site without first asking permission. Photograph copyright remains with the named photographers.