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Eurasian Wryneck

Jynx torquilla

Length: 7 inches Wingspan: 10.5 inches Seasonality: Non-resident in South Dakota
ID Keys: Tannish-gray overall with buffy and brown barring, dark eye stripe, darker wings.  Very well camouflaged.

Eurasian Wryneck - Jynx torquillaThe Eurasian Wryneck is a very unusual member of the Woodpecker family, with a normal range that spans across much of Europe and Asia.  In North America, they are known from a handful of sightings in extreme western Alaska.  Curiously, in February of 2000, a dead Eurasian Wryneck was found in Indiana.  The source of the Indiana bird is in question, but it is possible it was a natural lost migrant, given the species strong migratorial tendencies.  The term "Wryneck" refers to their capability to turn their heads 180 degrees, a capability they take advantage of when disturbed, as they will turn their heads and hiss at threats.

Habitat: Found in open forests, woodland clearings, and brushy areas.

Diet: Feeds heavily on insects, with a very strong preference for feeding on ants.

Behavior: Spends most of its time on the ground, foraging for ants and other insects.  They only rarely will forage in trees.

Nesting: Nests in cavities, using existing cavities built by other species rather than excavating its own.

Migration: Breeds across a very large swath of Europe and northern Asia.  Highly migratory, with birds wintering in central Africa and southern Asia.

Interactive eBird Map: Click here to access an interactive eBird map of Eurasian Wryneck sightings

Similar Species: Definitely unique compared to any other woodpecker species that has been seen in North America.

Conservation Status: Populations may be in decline globally, but they are still found over a wide geographic range and are relatively common in some areas.  The IUCN lists the Eurasian Wryneck as a species of "Least Concern".

Further Information: 1) BirdLife International - Eurasian Wryneck

2) Royal Society for the Protection of Birds - Wryneck

3) Woodpeckers of Europe - Wryneck

Photo Information: Photo taken by Tarique Sani - December 16th, 2009 - Nimji, Maharashtra, India - Photo licensed under Creative Commons Attribution NonCommerical ShareAlike 2.0 Generic License.


Click below for a higher-resolution map
Eurasian Wryneck - Range Map
South Dakota Status: Non-resident in South Dakota

Additional Eurasian Wryneck Photos (coming soon!!)