Male and female great spotted woodpeckers in winter


Woodpeckers are best known as the family that chisel into tree trunks with their beaks. Most species eat insects that they prise out of wood with their beaks and tongue, but the sapsucker consumes tree sap. Wrynecks are also in this group and spend most of their time on the ground feeding on ants.

Scientific name: Picidae

Rank: Family

Common names:



Map showing the distribution of the Woodpeckers taxa

The shading illustrates the diversity of this group - the darker the colour the greater the number of species. Data provided by WWF's Wildfinder.

Explore this group


  1. Life
  2. Animals
  3. Vertebrates
  4. Birds
  5. Piciformes
  6. Woodpeckers

BBC News about Woodpeckers

  • How woodpeckers avoid head injury The most detailed study of woodpeckers' movements reveals the biological reasons of why they can peck without risk of brain injury.

Elsewhere on the BBC