The Green Woodpecker – Bird of the Year 2014

Green WoodpeckerOnly a few species of birds in Central Europe have increased or even doubled their holdings in recent years. This includes the Green Woodpecker (Picus viridis; photograph: © H. Matlachowsky), a common inhabitant of urban parks, gardens and meadows. Here he is most likely to see when he looks at the ground after ants, which are its main prey. With his eponymous greenish-yellow plumage, the red head pattern (extending in the male over the entire crest, in the female only at the neck) and the dark face mask of the bird is visually quite striking and seems almost exotic. However, the bird mostly reveals its presence by light laughing, long-drawn calls that the male starts sounding from tall trees during mating season. The Green Woodpecker has an estimated total population of approximately 850,000 individuals in its European focal area of distribution. Thus, it is not on the Red List of endangered species. With its election to the bird of the year the woodpecker symbolically represents all species which need open grassland areas with adjacent trees as habitat. Because of zoning and soil sealing measures and the intensification of agriculture, these habitats have been reduced considerably in recent years. Unlike other species, the Green Woodpecker, a formerly typical inhabitant of the nowadays rare orchards, is synanthropic, being able to adapt to human-influenced habitats and even to profit from them. Therefore it is expected that the bird will remain a familiar sight for nature-loving urban people in the future.