Wild life and nature of Samos, Ikaria & Fournoi

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Eurasian Wryneck (Jynx torquilla)


This is a slim, elongated-looking bird, around 16 cm long. The upperparts are barred and mottled in shades of pale brown, with rufous/blackish bars and wider black streaks. The rump and upper tail coverts are grey with speckles and irregular bands of brown. The rounded tail is grey, speckled with brown, with faint bands of greyish-brown and a few more clearly defined bands of brownish-black. The cheeks and throat are buff barred with brown. The underparts are creamy white with brown markings shaped like arrow-heads which change to spots on the lower breast and belly.The Eurasian Wryneck sometimes forms small groups during migration and winter, but summer it is usually pairs. A characteristic shown is the bird holds its head high with its beak pointing slightly upwards.


This bird is found in open countryside, parkland, gardens, orchards, heaths and hedgerows, especially where there are some old trees. It may also inhabit deciduous woodland.


Feeds mostly on ants, larvae and pupae, and other insects, which it picks up with the sticky saliva on its long, thin tongue.

Protection Status

This species is listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List.

Interesting Facts

The bird gets their English name ‘Wryneck’ from their ability to turn their heads almost 180o, which led to their use in witchcraft to put a ‘jinx’ on someone.Eurasian Wrynecks’ use this method and hiss as a threat display if their nest is disturbed.

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