Green woodpecker

Green woodpecker

©Andy Morffew

Green woodpecker

Scientific name: Picus viridis
The laughing 'yaffle' call of the green woodpecker can be heard in our woodlands, parks and gardens. Look out for it hopping about your lawn, searching for ants to eat.

Species information


Length: 31-33cm
Wingspan: 41cm
Weight: 490g
Average lifespan: 5 years

Conservation status

Classified in the UK as Green under the Birds of Conservation Concern 5: the Red List for Birds (2021).

When to see

January to December


The green woodpecker is the largest of the UK's woodpeckers. It nests in holes that it excavates in trees in broadleaved woodlands, orchards, large parks and gardens. It can often be seen hopping about on pastures and lawns, looking for ants and invertebrates to eat, but it will also climb tree trunks and has a barbed tongue to help it extract insects from crevices in the bark. It has an undulating flight.

How to identify

The green woodpecker is olive-green, with a yellow rump, red crown and black around the face. Males have a red 'moustache' edged by black, but females have an all-black moustache.


Widespread, although absent from northern Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Did you know?

An old country name for the green woodpecker is the 'yaffle' because of the laughing sounds it makes. Professor Yaffle, a character in the classic children's programme Bagpuss, was loosely based on the green woodpecker.


Russell Savory