The European Green Woodpecker, scientifically known as Picus Viridis, is a species of woodpecker which belongs to the family Picidae. In the following article we will know more details about this peculiar bird and its natural environment.
The Picus Viridis
The Green Woodpecker or scientifically known as the Picus Viridis, is a very particular bird, which has a wide distribution area, this species also receives the name of European Green Woodpecker, this is a member of the woodpecker family Picidae. There are 4 subspecies of this specimen distributed in Europe and Western Asia, each of these have very striking physical characteristics, all have upperparts with green tones, underparts of paler yellowish tones, this bird also has a red crown and a very unique stripe that identifies them, in males there is a red center, this detail is different in females as it is usually black. The Picus Viridis has a very varied diet, often consuming ants and small animals found in their natural environment. This bird is distinguished from other woodpeckers, as it makes loud sounds to communicate with other specimens close to its environment. In its usual behavior is characterized by being a quiet bird, although somewhat noisy as it emits different sounds to attract the attention of birds near him, the reproduction process of this species is very complex, it places a hole in a tree where it establishes the nest, and the female lays 4 to 6 eggs that hatch after 19 to 20 days.
The Picus Viridis or European Green Woodpecker is about 30 to 36 cm long and has a wingspan of 45 to 51 cm. Both sexes are green and some yellowish tones, they also have a red crown and nape; males have a red stripe in the center, and in the case of females it is black.
The birds Picus Viridis, are distinguished in the adult stage by their colors, since these have more defined tonalities than the young birds that usually have more subtle colors in different parts of the body, although the young males can show some red feathers at the beginning of the month of June or in the following months between July or August.
These birds fulfill certain natural processes in the months of June and November, the first flight feathers are lost at the moment when the young birds fledge since this period is usually fast and after this happens they get their adult plumage between the months of August and November.The Picus Viridis or European Green Woodpecker is a very quiet bird, but as soon as it can it makes different calls to communicate with other specimens through loud sounds, usually the noises it emits are varied, and it makes them to express its different moods, depending on the seasons it can sing frequently, and in the breeding periods it makes calls to attract other birds.
The change of plumage of the Picus Viridis is done through a continuous process that begins in the breeding cave, and has a lapse of 4 months, after this time it is completed properly and the chicks reach the plumage of adult birds in late autumn, this in a natural way.
The Picus Viridis bird belongs to the order Piciformes, this specimen is a member of the woodpecker family Picidae and the genus Picus. It was described for the first time in 1758.
There are about 4 subspecies, with very subtle differences of this bird and mostly clinales between them, which are identified as:
- Picus Viridis bird, this bird breeds in several places among which stand out: Europe in the southern area, France with the exception of the south of Roussillon, the Alps, the north of Yugoslavia and Romania
- Picus Viridis Karelini, this specimen has a wide distribution area, breeding in Italy, southeastern Europe south of southern Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Asia Minor, northern Iran and southwestern Turkmenistan. It has duller green back, cheeks and underparts than viridis.
- Picus Viridis Innominatus, this bird breeds in southwestern and southern Iran, it is like the karelini but with almost white cheeks, throat and breast and a more defined barrier on the tail.
In a recent study which focused on analyzing the mitochondrial DNA of the subspecies by Perktaş, Barrowclough and Groth, it was established to divide this species into 3 distinct species:
- Picus Viridis innominatus
The Iberian green woodpecker (Picus Viridis sharpei ) has been divided by some taxonomists, including the IOC.
The Picus Viridis is a very particular bird with a plumage full of well-defined shades, its scientific name comes from the Greek pikos, which means “woodpecker”, and the Latin viridis, which means “green”.In general, the name of this species is related to its physical characteristics.
The European Green Woodpecker or also called Picus Viridis, usually make different sounds to establish their communications, on a daily basis they express themselves through song.
Although their singing is usually characterized by being discreet, this is done frequently as part of their daily habits and customs, each noise has a particular touch as they are accompanied by strong and determined sounds. The Picus Viridis in warm winter climates, stands out for issuing calls in a loud tone which can be heard over long distances even reaches certain areas of Central Europe, usually in the months of December and January, they are known for issuing more constant sounds, although these noises may be different depending on the season.
The Picus Viridis bird is characterized by being a diurnal bird, it moves from one place to another on a regular basis because it is very active, it also likes to be noticed and emits loud sounds. This specimen has a regular activity period and can fly in the same direction every day for weeks and forage in the same spaces.
The activity phase lasts between 8 hours in December and 15 hours in July, depending on the light of the day, this is how the Picus Viridis performs this process. The Picus Viridis is characterized by being very agile and skillful compared to other common woodpeckers, since it is very active and moves from one place to another jumping, it can jump distances of about 3 meters, in individual jumps with a maximum level of 25 cm without flying. Compared to other species of birds, this one has its own style to move from one place to another, it inhabits places with dense vegetation, it does not fly to go from one tree to another, but it overcomes the distances in a very characteristic glide.
First it usually climbs the trunk of a tree, then in a direct way it glides, in a continuous way, it can make small walks, in the winter seasons, it frequently travels the nearby gardens in search of food, it is considered a bird of foot and in line, when this bird is in the young stage it abandons the territories of its parents and becomes independent it looks for its own zones to inhabit, generally in the migrations, they only arrive until 30 km of the place where they lived.The longest walks of these birds, comprise around 82 km, in other specimens about 170 km, these have been followed by means of studies carried out to these species, with the purpose of knowing more about their nature, environment and lifestyle.
Distribution and habitat
The Picus Viridis has a wide distribution, this is located in certain areas of Europe, although it is rare in the northern and eastern areas, and spaces such as:
- Macaronesian Islands
It is distributed in many areas including presumably more than half of the European population in places such as France, Spain and Germany, with significant numbers located in areas of Portugal, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Russia, Croatia, Romania and Bulgaria. There are also populations of these birds in Western Asia.
After the process of laying the last egg, both parents incubate them for a period of about 19 to 20 days, they perform certain shifts to perform well their work of care which is 1.5 and 2.5 hours. The chicks are naked and altricial at hatching and usually fledge after 21 to 24 days. The European Green Woodpecker or Picus Viridis, is characterized by reaching sexual maturity in the first year of life. The courtship begins with the first contact calls of the males in the season of December and then increases considerably during the following months of January and February, during this time they emit various sounds, these birds use the different sounds to call the other birds and carry out their natural process which requires a period of time from the beginning of the courtship where the male uses various methods to attract the attention of the female. Another fundamental aspect of the reproduction of the Picus Viridis is that it looks for a suitable environment that has several fruit trees, banana trees, this can be established in the nesting caves as a main measure. The Picus Viridis makes its own caves and does not establish itself in a particular way in areas far from its environment, but it looks for the places that are more suitable and establishes itself for long periods, which include up to years because it does not travel long distances away from its place of origin.
These caves began to evolve by these birds, nowadays they only elaborate a reproduction hole after some years, this process turned out to be more comfortable for this species. The depth of the interior of the breeding cavity usually has an exact measurement and is cut to about 25 to 60 centimeters, the hole has a height and width of 50 to 75 millimeters as a fundamental aspect of their constructions. Some time after mating, the female of this species lays about 5 to 8 white eggs which are of pure shades with an average size of 31 x 23 millimeters, oviposition usually begins between the beginning of April and continues to mid-May, the incubation period is about 14 to 17 days. The chicks develop normally between 23 and 27 days and fly in the months of June to July. Usually the parents take care of the chicks together until they reach a level of independence, this is a process that takes time and during this stage require care and attention, the parents provide adequate food to their offspring. In the period that corresponds to the first 3 to 7 weeks, both parents feed and care for the chicks, even after this process some may still maintain contact with the parents of young Picus Viridis birds up to 15 weeks of age.
The Picus viridis bird is classified along with 15 other species of woodpeckers in the genus called Picus , which is considered broad and is also known as Palearctic.
The main reason for the negative developments that these birds commonly present are based on the loss of suitable habitats in the form of open areas with ample vegetation, which is necessary for this bird to develop properly. The decrease in the basic food sources of these birds, such as meadow ants, due to the constant tillage of the land and pastures on croplands with a higher percentage of chemicals and the use of biocides in agriculture is probably the main cause of the reduction of these birds, as well as the lack of meadows. The declines of these species in some places are significant due to the strong climates in the harsh winter seasons, where the green woodpecker Picus Viridis has a lower capacity to survive unlike other species such as the gray-headed woodpecker.
The European Green Woodpecker, or Picus Viridis, is characterized by a very broad diet, feeding mainly on ants, these birds spend a lot of time feeding on the ground, although other insects and small reptiles are also occasionally taken. The bird’s characteristic elongated, cylindrical droppings often consist entirely of ant remains.