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The Green Woodpecker

The Green Woodpecker

The Green Woodpecker

The Natural and Cultural History of Picus viridis

By Gerard Gorman

  • Written by a leading authority on European woodpeckers.
  • Thoroughly researched with a detailed bibliography of international sources. 
  • Illustrated with many exceptional colour photographs.



This book describes the natural and cultural history of an iconic and unusual woodpecker – a species that nests in tree cavities but which forages mostly on the ground. The Green Woodpecker, known in folk English as the Yaffle, is afforded comprehensive coverage in this work, with information on its origins, taxonomy, anatomy, appearance, moult, calls, distribution, conservation status, habitats, movements, breeding, diet and relationships with other wildlife and humans all presented.

The text is richly illustrated throughout with quality photographs as well as sound spectrograms. Many eye-opening observations of Green Woodpecker behaviour are detailed. This all-encompassing and engaging account has been written for a wide audience, whether professional ornithologist, citizen scientist, amateur birder, woodpecker aficionado and simply someone who wishes to learn more about this curious and remarkable bird.


Table of Contents

About the author 

1. Origins and Taxonomy 
2. Anatomy and Morphology 
3. Description and Identification 
4. Moult, Ageing and Sexing 
5. Relatives 
6. Communication 
7. Distribution, Population and Trends 
8. Challenges and Conservation 
9. Habitats 
10. Behaviour 
11. Movements and Flight 
12. Breeding 
13. Cavities 
14. Tracks and Signs 
15. Foraging and Food 
16. Relationships 
17. Folklore, Mythology and Symbolism



About the Author

Gerard Gorman is a global authority on the Picidae. He has published numerous papers and seven books on this fascinating family of birds, including Woodpeckers of the World: The Complete Guide (Helm 2014), The Wryneck (Pelagic Publishing 2022) and The Green Woodpecker (Pelagic Publishing 2023). For the past 30 years he has travelled the world studying woodpeckers, believing that time in the field is the only way to really get to know them. In his recent books, the author augments many hours watching wrynecks and green woodpeckers with comprehensive literature research, creating what will surely be the definitive works on the two species. Gorman lives in Budapest and is a founder member and current leader of the Hungarian Woodpecker Group.

  • Reviews

    • A fascinating and compelling biography of one of the most charismatic of all European birds, written by the world expert on woodpeckers. 
      —Stephen Moss, naturalist and author
    • Such a striking and characterful bird as the green woodpecker fully deserves a book of its own, and Gerard Gorman, an international authority on woodpeckers, does the species proud with this fascinating, informative and highly readable account of its natural history and place in our culture. Comprehensive in its detail and beautifully illustrated, the book explores the life of this intriguing bird, from its appetite for ants and complicated repertoire of calls to the physical adaptations that enable it to chisel out nest cavities in trees. The author’s expertise and experience in the field shine through as he celebrates the unique qualities that make the green-backed, bandit-masked, crimson-crowned, hard-staring, long-tongued, ground-feeding, loud-calling ‘Yaffle’ so special. 
      —Charlie Elder, author of the RSPB's Everyday Guide to British Birds
    • No one else in the world could have written this captivating book, which combines biology, ecology, and culture in a way that situates the green woodpecker firmly in the fortunate landscapes it inhabits. Gerard Gorman writes with his usual grace and verve, making this not just a must-read but a want-to-keep-reading title for anyone interested in birds and their connections to the natural and the cultural world. 
      —Rick Wright, author and ornithologist
    • World woodpecker expert Gerard Gorman has produced yet another beautiful monograph on one of his chosen species. Beautifully illustrated, well written and supported by an extensive reference list this is a great little book and a credit to the author and publisher. 
      —Ken Smith, The Woodpecker Network
    • A fascinating window into the world of the Green Woodpecker. 
      —David Lindo (The Urban Birder)
    • The Green Woodpecker is extensively illustrated with captivating photographs and artwork which support Gorman’s narrative which is always authoritative, entertaining and fast-paced. 
      —James Wright, The Wryneck blog
    • If you want to know what we currently know about this species then this, undoubtedly, is the book for you. 
      —Mark Avery, author and environmental campaigner
    • This book is a must have for anyone with an interest in this species or with woodpeckers in general. 
      —Ian Paulsen, The Birdbooker Report
    • This is a well-written book that brings together a wealth of information. Nobody has done more on a European scale to promote woodpecker issues than Gerard Gorman. 
      —Keith Betton, British Birds
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