Jynx torquilla (Linnaeus, 1758)
Family: Piciformes > Picidae
This former breeder was once a common bird across much of central and southern England, favouring commons, heathland, orchards, parkland and larger gardens.
This small woodpecker, with its delicately-patterned plumage, is now only a very occasional breeder and typically only seen on passage during autumn and spring.
Wryneck identification is usually straightforward.
Listen to example recordings of the main vocalisations of Wryneck, provided by xeno-canto contributors.
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Status and Trends
Population size and trends and patterns of distribution based on BTO surveys and atlases with data collected by BTO volunteers.
This species can be found on the following statutory and conservation listings and schedules.
|Species of European Conservation Concern||Least Concern|
|IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (global)||Least Concern|
|Schedule 1 license required (to disturb)||Yes|
|Birds Directive Annex 1||No|
|Listed on the Annexes of||WCA(I,IV), Bern(III)|
Historically, the Wryneck was a widespread breeding species in the UK (Monk 1963) but substantial declines have occurred and the last confirmed breeding record was in 2002 (RBBP data). Occasional records of singing males still occur but the species is believed to be extinct as a breeding species in the UK.
A former breeder, Wrynecks were not confirmed to breed during Bird Atlas 2007–11. Possible breeding evidence was recorded in 12 10-km squares and probable breeding was noted in just one square. Most records were in the Scottish Highlands, with a marked concentration in Strathspey, and refer to singing males.
Occupied 10-km squares in UK
|No. occupied in breeding season||13|
|% occupied in breeding season||0.4|
|No. occupied in winter||2|
|% occupied in winter||0.07|
European Distribution Map
|% change in range in breeding season (1968–72 to 2008–11)||-72.9%|
Wryneck is a former breeding species, now rare passage migrant of early spring. It is more likely to be encountered in autumn, especially in August and September.
Information about movement and migration based on online bird portals (e.g. BirdTrack), Ringing schemes and tracking studies.
An overview of year-round movements for the whole of Europe can be seen on the EuroBirdPortal viewer.
Lifecycle and body size information about Wryneck, including statistics on nesting, eggs and lifespan based on BTO ringing and nest recording data.
View number ringed each year in the Online Ringing Report
|Typical Lifespan||2 years with breeding typically at 1 year|
|Wing Length||Adults||90.3±2.6 | Range 86–94mm, N=41|
|Juveniles||90.2±3 | Range 84-95mm, N=77|
|Body Weight||Adults||33.4±5.15 | Range 27.3–44.1g, N=41|
|Juveniles||33.4±4.3206 | Range 27.5–42.0g, N=71|
Feather measurements and photos on featherbase
|Field Codes||2-letter: WY | 5-letter code: WRYNE | Euring: 8480|
For information in another language (where available) click on a linked name
Interpretation and scientific publications about Wryneck from BTO scientists.
Causes of change
The decline and extinction of this species in the UK is believed to have been driven by a drop in food availability caused by a shortage of bare ground and short vegetation, although a number of other factors may have contributed including agricultural intensification, climate change, an increase in conifer plantations and the effects of pesticides (Balmer et al. 2013).
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