Breeding of Eurasian Wryneck
Eurasian Wryneck breeds in temperate regions of Europe and Asia. Most populations are migratory, wintering in tropical Africa and in southern Asia from Iran to the Indian Subcontinent, but some are resident in north-western Africa. It is a bird of open countryside, woodland and orchards.
Structure of Eurasian Wryneck
Eurasian Wrynecks measure about 16.5 cm in length and have bills shorter and less dagger-like than those of other woodpeckers. Their upperparts are barred and mottled in shades of pale brown with rufous and blackish bars and wider black streaks. Their under parts are cream speckled and spotted with brown. Their chief prey is ants and other insects, which they find in decaying wood or on the ground. The eggs are white as is the case with many birds that nest in holes and a clutch of seven to ten eggs is laid during May and June.
Description of Eurasian Wryneck
Eurasian Wryneck was first described by Carl Linnaeus in the tenth edition of his Systema Naturae in 1758. This type of species came from Sweden. The genus name Jynx comes from the Latin iynx, the name of the bird. It had occasionally been used in magic and divination because of its remarkable ability to twist its neck and head through almost 180 degrees while hissing like a snake.
Size of Eurasian Wryneck
Eurasian Wryneck grows to about 17 cm (6.7 in) in length. The subspecies Jynx torquilla tschusii weighs 26 to 50 g (0.92 to 1.76 oz). It is a slim, elongated-looking bird with a body shape more like a thrush than a woodpecker. The upperparts are barred and mottled in shades of pale brown with rufous and blackish bars and wider black streaks. The rump and upper tail coverts are grey with speckles and irregular bands of brown. The rounded tail is grey, speckled with brown, with faint bands of greyish-brown and a few more clearly defined bands of brownish-black. The cheeks and throat are buff barred with brown. The under parts are creamy white with brown markings shaped like arrow-heads which are reduced to spots on the lower breast and belly. The flanks are buff with similar markings and the under-tail coverts are buff with narrow brown bars. The primaries and secondaries are brown with rufous-buff markings.
Colour of Eurasian Wryneck
The beak of Eurasian Wryneck is brown, long and slender with a broad base and sharp tip. The irises are hazel and the slender legs and feet are pale brown. The first and second toes are shorter than the others. The first and fourth toes point backwards and the second and third point forwards a good arrangement for clinging to vertical surfaces.
Call of Eurasian Wryneck
The call of Eurasian Wryneck is a series of repeated harsh, shrill notes quee-quee-quee-quee lasting for several seconds and is reminiscent of the voice of the lesser spotted woodpecker. Its alarm call is a short series of staccato "tuck"s and when disturbed on the nest it hisses.
Distribution of Eurasian Wryneck
Eurasian Wryneck has a pale arctic distribution. The breeding range of the nominate subspecies includes all of Europe from Britain to the Urals. In the north it reaches the Arctic Circle and the range includes Spain in the southwest. In the south and east it intergrades with J. T. Tschusii which is found in Corsica, Italy, Dalmatia and parts of the Balkans. J. T. Mauretanica is resident in Algeria and Morocco and possibly also the Balearic Islands, Sardinia and parts of Sicily. J. T. sarudnyi occurs in the Urals and then in a wide strip of Asia through southern Siberia, Central Asia, including the north-western Himalayas to the Pacific coast. J. T. chinensis that breeds in eastern Siberia and north-eastern and central China while J. T. Himalayana breeds in Pakistan and the north-western Himalayan Mountain Range.
Behaviour of Eurasian Wryneck
During summer Eurasian Wryneck is found in open countryside, parkland, gardens, orchards, heaths and hedgerows, especially where there are some old trees. It may also inhabit deciduous woodland and in Scandinavia it also occurs in coniferous forests.
Migration of Eurasian Wryneck
Eurasian Wryneck sometimes forms small groups during migration and in its winter quarters but during summer they are usually found in pairs. It characteristically holds its head high with its beak pointing slightly upwards. A mutual display that occurs at any time of year involves two birds perched facing each other with their heads far back and beaks wide open, bobbing their heads up and down. Sometimes the head is allowed to slump sideways and hang limply. On other occasions, when excited, the head is shaken and twisted about violently. When disturbed on the nest or held in the hand, the neck contorts and twists in all directions. The bird sometimes feigns death and hangs limply with eyes closed. Eurasian wrynecks use their necks in display.