Grey woodpecker

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Grey woodpecker
Gray Woodpecker - KenyaNH8O2206.jpg
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Piciformes
Family: Picidae
Genus: Mesopicos
Species: M. goertae
Binomial name
Mesopicos goertae
(Statius Muller, 1776)

The grey woodpecker (Mesopicos goertae) is a widespread and frequently common resident breeder in much of Sub-Saharan and equatorial Africa. It is a species associated with forest and bush which nests in a tree hole, often in an oil palm, laying two to four eggs.

Like other woodpeckers, this species has a straight pointed bill, a stiff tail to provide support against tree trunks, and zygodactyl or “yoked" feet, with two toes pointing forward, and two backward. The long tongue can be darted forward to capture insects.

This bird is 20 cm in length. It is a typical woodpecker shape, and has unmarked green upperparts and a pale grey head and underparts. The rump is red, and there is a small red belly patch. The short tail is blackish.

The adult male grey woodpecker has a red crown. Females have a plain grey head, lacking the red crown. Young birds are like the female, but the reds are paler, and there may be some flank barring.

Grey woodpecker, Parc Forestier de Hann, Senegal

Like other woodpeckers, this species is an insectivore. It is frequently seen, and regularly taps or drums. The call is a loud and fast peet-peet-peet-peet.