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Why is the Wryneck so called?

13 October 2017

The Wryneck gets its name from the ability to turn its head from side to side and back and forth in the manner of a snake.  This ability is thought to imitate a snake, to deter predators from their nest.  They will also assume this habit when held in the hand.  See our video

The Wryneck Jynx torquilla is a member of the Woodpecker family of birds.  It has a large head, compared to its body, and a very long tongue, used to extract insect prey from crevices.  Like all Woodpeckers, it has the curiosity of having two front forward-pointing toes and two backward pointing ones; unlike all birds with three forward and one back.


This one was trapped at the Gibraltar Bird Observatory where it was measured, ringed and released; not before exhibiting its characteristic head-twisting feature.