Grey-faced Woodpecker (Picus canus)

Grey-faced Woodpecker

[order] PICIFORMES | [family] Picidae | [latin] Picus canus | [UK] Grey-faced Woodpecker | [FR] Pic cendre | [DE] Grauspecht | [ES] Pito Cano | [NL] Grijskopspecht


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range

Physical charateristics

Medium-sized woodpecker, with basic plumage colours and pattern recalling Green Woodpecker but differing distinctly in lighter flight, greater agility, dark eye, largely grey, less marked head (only red forecrown in male and only narrow black moustache in both sexes), and greyer underparts.

Listen to the sound of Grey-faced Woodpecker

[audio: Woodpecker.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 38 cm wingspan max.: 40 cm
size min.: 27 cm size max.: 30 cm
incubation min.: 14 days incubation max.: 15 days
fledging min.: 24 days fledging max.: 15 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 6  
      eggs max.: 10  


Eurasia, Oriental Region : widespread


Resident, subject to local seasonal movements, predominantly in temperate and marginally in warm boreal zone of west Palearctic, largely overlapping with Green Woodpecker, but differing somewhat in more continental and generally more upland and montane distribution, although nature and extent of competition for habitat remain obscure. In lowlands appears content with smaller woodlands than Green Woodpecker, and favours moist carrs or trees fringing rivers, even where old timber infrequent: also occurs in open woods of beech, oak, or hornbeam. Rarely above 600 m in central Europe, but in some regions ascends above 1000 m and locally, especially after breeding season, even slightly above 2000 m, particularly among larches where ant populations are high


Egg laying in Central Europe, southern Scandinavia, and western Russia in second half of April. One brood only.
Nest site is a hole in tree, mainly in aspen, beech, oak, and lime; also in willow and pine. Nest is an excavated hole, average diameter 5.7 cm; no material added but wood chips left. Clutch size 7-9 incubated foir 14-15 days, young fledge after 24-28 days.

Feeding habits

Diet similar to Green Woodpecker but more varied, with less specialization on ants. Shorter tongue and differences in leg length, leg musculature, and tail length indicate feeding ecology more like Dendrocopos woodpeckers. Forages chiefly on ground but also commonly on low trees and buildings and at cracks on walls, rock faces, etc.


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Grey-faced Woodpecker status Least Concern


Resident. Some dispersal occurs within breeding range, but extends beyond it to small (irregular) extent only

Distribution map

Grey-faced Woodpecker distribution range map

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *