The Eurasian Wryneck (Jynx torquilla) is a species of wryneck bird belonging to the family of woodpeckers. The Eurasian Wryneck bird breeds in temperate regions of Europe and Asia. The Eurasian Wryneck bird is migratory, wintering in tropical Africa and southern Asia. It is a bird of open woodland and orchards. On migration it is frequently seen in sandy areas, where it forages for ants.
The beaks of the Eurasian Wryneck are shorter and less dagger-like than in the true woodpeckers. Their main prey is ants and other insects, which they find in decaying wood or almost bare soil. Eurasian Wryneck birds re-use woodpecker holes for nesting, rather than making their own holes. Their eggs are white, as with many hole nesters.
The Eurasian Wryneck birds get their English name from their ability to turn their heads almost 180 degrees.
When disturbed at their nest, they use a snake-like head twisting and hissing as a display of threat. This odd behaviour led to their use in witchcraft, hence to put a ‘jinx’ on someone.
There are six subspecies of the Eurasian Wryneck:
Jynx torquilla chinensis
Jynx torquilla himalayana
Jynx torquilla mauretanica
Jynx torquilla sarudnyi
Jynx torquilla torquilla
Jynx torquilla tschusii