Woodpeckers - Green
|by Marcia Malory|
The green woodpecker lives in Europe and western Asia, usually in open deciduous forests.
Adult green woodpeckers are about a foot long and mostly green all over, with a crimson crown. The back is a darker shade of green than the belly, and the rump is a bright greenish brown.
The male has a mustache-like stripe that is red with a black border; in the female, this stripe is completely black.
Young birds are not as brightly colored. Their green and black streaked undersides have pale spots.
The green woodpecker uses its long, flexible tongue to find grubs under loose bark and to poke inside anthills.
It eats many insects that live in trees. These include caterpillars, the larvae of wood-boring beetles, and insects that produce galls - plant tissue outgrowths.
The green woodpecker's diet also includes nuts, seeds, fruits and berries.
Green woodpeckers also eat other birds, mostly nestlings.
They eat sparrows, tits, house martins, starlings and sometimes, lesser spotted woodpeckers.
They also eat eggs.
The male and the female green woodpecker share the work of cutting the nest hole.
Nest holes are usually bored in decaying branches of live trees.
The only things that line the nest are a few wood chips.
The female lays between five and seven white, oval eggs directly on the floor of the nest.
Both sexes incubate the eggs for between 15 and 17 days.
Both parents then feed the young for about 20 days.
The breeding season for green woodpeckers lasts from the end of April through June.
Early in the season, starlings will sometimes force green woodpeckers to leave their nests, and then take over the nests themselves.
When it is not breeding season, green woodpeckers use tree holes for roosting at night.
One member of the breeding pair roosts in the former nest hole. The other member of the pair bores a new hole, which is only used as a roost.
The nest hole from the previous year is used as a roost all winter.
In the spring, a new hole is usually made for nesting.