Eurasian Wryneck

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Common Name: Eurasian Wryneck
Scientific Name: Jynx torquilla

Size: 6.26 inches (16-17cm)

Habitat: Eurasia and Africa; the breeding range of Wryneck lies entirely within the Palearctic, from France and Iberia eastwards to Japan, between latitudes 35 and 64 degrees. In continental Europe it breeds regularly from sub-arctic Fenno-Scandia (Lapland) to the Mediterranean and Black Sea. In the British Isles most Wrynecks are seen at coastal observatories. As a breeding species it is more common away from the European coastline, in particular the Atlantic and North Sea coasts of France and the Low Countries, seemingly preferring a drier inland, continental climate. However, Wrynecks do breed on the Atlantic coasts of Norway and northern Spain, so perhaps other factors besides climate, such as habitat land use, are involved. It is unclear which race breeds in Greece, though it is possible that both torquilla and tschusii do. The latter race is also thought to winter there. Some Wrynecks also winter in southern Spain and southern Italy. The bulk of the population however winters in Africa.

Status: Least Concern. Global Population: 5,000,000 - 15,000,000 mature individuals. The population has suffered a long term reduction in numbers and range since the mid 19th century in west and central Europe owing to increased rain during the breeding season caused by climatic changes, agricultural improvement, loss of orchards and unimproved meadows, replacement of hardwoods with conifer plantations and widespread over-use of pesticides and herbicides. In Europe, trends since 1980 show that populations are still undergoing a moderate decline. The Eurasian Wryneck is red-listed (Endangered) in Britain by RSPB.

Diet: Ants and other insects.

Breeding: The sexes are almost identical in plumage and visually rarely separable in the field. Adult males are warmer and richer in color than females with more rufous and yellowish tones on the under-parts. Wynecks are cavity nesters often reusing abandon woodpecker nests.

Cool Facts: Wynecks are in Woodpecker family though Wynecks beaks are noticeably shorter. These birds get their English name from their ability to turn their heads almost 180 degrees. When disturbed at the nest, they use this snake-like head twisting and hissing as a threat display. This odd behavior led to their use in witchcraft, hence to put a "jinx" on someone.

This species is a long distance migrant, and can cover a distance of 600 km (360 miles) in 8 days.

There are six subspecies:

  • Jynx torquilla chinensis
  • Jynx torquilla himalayana
  • Jynx torquilla mauretanica
  • Jynx torquilla sarudnyi
  • Jynx torquilla torquilla
  • Jynx torquilla tschusii

Found in Songbird ReMix European Edition 2

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