Grey Headed Woodpeckers

The Grey Headed Woodpecker is very similar in size and appearance to the Green Woodpecker.  As its name suggests the difference is that it has a grey head rather than the green head.  Although there is a very small amount of black on the head of Grey Headed woodpeckers, another difference between the two species is the absence of any black eye patch on the Grey headed which also aids identification in areas where both species are present.

Grey Headed Woodpeckers are 25 to 28 cm in length, this is similar and only slightly larger than the Great Spotted Woody (which is 23 to 26 cm).  The Green Woodpecker is a larger bird at 30 to 36 cm in length. 

The range of the Grey Headed Woodpecker is similar but slightly smaller European range than that of the Green Woodpecker and covers quite a large area of Europe.  It is not found in Britain, Spain, Italy, or the Northern parts of Scandinavia.  However it has a large overall range right across central Russia and down into both China and Japan.  Because of this large "west to east" range the species is considered stable in population size although the world population is not known.

The Grey Headed Woodpecker is also called the "Grey Faced Woodpecker".


Identification of Grey Headed Woodpeckers is easy as the only species that they can be confused with is Green woodpeckers, but the grey head is the obvious identification feature between the two species.

As with many of the European woodpecker species, Identifying males, females and juveniles can be relatively easy as adult males have the red crown which is missing from the female birds.  This red crown is much smaller on the young male juvenile birds but can be seen above the beak at the front of the crown.  This red is absent from young female birds which means it is easy to identify both male and female birds irrespective of their age.

Scandinavia is at the far North of the range of the Grey headed Woodpecker, but I have seen and photographed them in both Sweden and Finland.