© Copyright: Images: Jari Peltomäki, Mervi Wahlroos, M. & W. von Wright: Svenska fåglar (Kansalliskirjasto, The National Library of Finland). Recording: Jan-Erik Bruun. All rights reserved.


Jynx torquilla

  • Name also: Northern Wryneck, Eurasian Wryneck
  • Family: Woodpeckers – Picidae
  • Appearance: An untypical woodpecker, small in size and mainly greyish brown in colouring with darker markings. Shy, and most often observed due to its piercing, repetitive call.
  • Size: Length 16–18 cm, weight 32–43 g.
  • Nest: In a hole in a tree or a nest box, with no nest material used. May take over other birds’ nesting holes by removing their nests.
  • Breeding: 4–13 eggs laid in May, incubated by both parents for 11–19 days. Fledglings remain in nest for 17–22 days.
  • Distribution: Nests in relatively open woodland in Southern and Central Finland, scarcer further north into forested regions of Finnish Lapland. Finnish breeding population estimated at 5,000–15,000 pairs. Numbers have declined steeply.
  • Migration: Migrates nocturnally, leaving Finland in August and returning April–May. Winters in tropical Africa.
  • Diet: Ants and their eggs.
  • Calls: A harsh, repetitive series of moaning calls.
  • Endangerment: Near threatened, protected.

Wrynecks are small members of the woodpecker, only about the size of a sparrow. They have a slender, elongated shape, and their plumage consists of mottled brown and greyish markings with darker streaks, similar to the plumage of the Nightjar. Distinctive features include a yellow ochre coloured throat patch with darker streaks, a darker stripe running down their nape and back, and a grey tail with blackish crosswise stripes. Mature wrynecks have brown irises and paler brown beak and legs. Juvenile birds have grey legs, a dark reddish beak and yellowish grey irises.

Wrynecks are wary and usually remain concealed. They may lie still on surfaces covered with lichen, trusting in their camouflage. When disturbed at their nest, Wrynecks may hiss like a snake and wave their heads by twisting their necks.

Other species from the same family

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