Monday, 10 September 2007

Wryneck: general ID

Measurements: Length 16-17 cm. Wingspan 25-27 cm. Thus, between the smaller Lesser Spotted and larger Middle Spotted Woodpeckers in size. The tail comprises around a third of overall length. Wryneck is a fairly slight and small woodpecker in size and structure perhaps more like a large warbler, a long-tailed chat or small shrike rather than a "true" woodpecker. Has a distinctly non woodpecker-like short, fine, pointed bill with a curved culmen. Unlike other woodpeckers the bill is also smooth and lacks grooves though this cannot be seen in the field. The legs are rather short and indeed structurally are the only really typical woodpecker-like feature. Wryneck has a relatively small head, slim body, long tail rounded at the tip and short, broad and rounded wings. Wrynecks are cryptically patterned and well camouflaged, being coloured by a subtle mosaic of brown, fawn and grey tones with delicate dark vermiculations, streaks, bars and mottling. Though well marked, on distant views birds often appear uniformly greyish with few obviously distinguishing features. The feathers are softer than other woodpeckers, the tongue lacks barbs and the nostrils are round and lack protecting feathers and bristles. Photo above of an adult Wryneck, Landguard, England (Bill Baston). The bird is in a typical terrestrial pose.

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