Daily Life and Feeding
Green woodpeckers are most common in old parkland but will live happily in any habitat that offers a mixture of large old trees and areas of close cropped grass. In the trees they excavate nest holes in soft wood with their powerful beaks.
The birds are so fond of ants that they will fly long distances from their nest sites to find a good feeding place. The green woodpecker has become a specialist feeder and eats about 2,000 ants a day. When it has found an ants' nest it tugs at the grass and digs out a hole about 8cm deep. The ants are licked up as they rush out. The long sticky tongue can also fish for ants deep inside the ants'nest. The eggs, larvae and pupae of the ants are also eaten. A woodpecker may feed at a large ants'nest for more than an hour, returning again and again for weeks.
Although ants are preferred, green woodpeckers will also eat any insects they can find, extracting them from the ground or from the bark of trees. Some birds have been known to raid bee-hives in search of bees and grubs.
Green woodpeckers are well-camouflaged when amongst the trees and are difficult to spot. They are more often heard than seen - their loud, ringing "yaffle" is easily recognised. The green woodpecker is, in fact, sometimes called the ‘yaffle’ or ‘yaffle bird’ after its call.Read More: Breeding