Wryneck, Draaihals, Wendehals, Torcicolo, Torcecuello Euroasiático
Spotted on our property Monte Horizonte in the Alentejo Region of Portugal. Wryneck sound
The Wrynecks (genus Jynx) are a small but distinctive group of small Old World woodpeckers.
More photos at the bottom of this page.
Like the true woodpeckers, wrynecks have large heads, long tongues which they use to extract their insect prey and zygodactyl feet, with two toes pointing forward, and two backwards. However, they lack the stiff tail feathers that the true woodpeckers use when climbing trees, so they are more likely than their relatives to perch on a branch rather than an upright trunk.
Their bills are shorter and less dagger-like than in the true woodpeckers, but their chief prey is ants and other insects, which they find in decaying wood or almost bare soil. They re-use woodpecker holes for nesting, rather than making their own holes. The eggs are white, as with many hole nesters.
The two species have cryptic plumage, with intricate patterning of greys and browns. The voice is a nasal woodpecker-like call.
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 behaviour led to their use in witchcraft, hence to put a “jinx” on someone.
In the aftermath of German reunification in 1990, East German officials who flipped their political orientation 180 degrees to repudiate Communism were mocked as “wrynecks” (Wendehals in German) in reference to the birds’ extraordinary neck flexibility.
There are two species:
Eurasian Wryneck, Jynx torquilla
Rufous-necked Wryneck, or Red-breasted Wryneck, Jynx ruficollis.
Azerbaijani: Adi burunboyuq, Adi ilanboyun
Breton: Ar penngamm-Eurazia
Catalan: Blauet, Colltort, Formiguer
Catalan (Balears): Formiguer
Czech: Krutihlav obecný
Welsh: Gwas y gog, Gwddfgam, Gwddfro, Pengam
English: Eurasian Wryneck, European Wryneck, Northern Wryneck, Wryneck
Spanish: Torcecuello, Torcecuello de África Tropical, Torcecuello Euroasiático, Tprcecuello
Basque: Colltort, Lepitzuli, Lepitzulia
French: Torcol fourmilier
Galician: Colltort, Peto formigueiro, Picapeixe, Rei-pescador
Croatian: Vijoglav, Vijoglav mravar
Italian: Torcicollo, Torcicollo eurasiatico
Japanese: arisui, ari-sui
Latin: Jynx torquilla
Norwegian: Sågauk, Vendehals
Polish: Dudek, kretoglów
Northern Sami: Cáihnecizáš
Slovak: krutihlav hnedý
Swahili: Kiseleagofu wa Ulaya
Turkish: Boyun Çeviren, Boyunçeviren
Venetian: Oselo de la Madona, Pionbin
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