Justification of Red List Category
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be increasing, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
The European population is estimated at 587,000-1,050,000 pairs, which equates to 1,180,000-2,120,000 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015). Europe forms c.95% of the global range, so a very preliminary estimate of the global population size is 1,240,000-2,230,000 mature individuals although further validation of this estimate is needed.
The European population trend increased moderately between 1980 and 2013 (EBCC 2015).
This species uses a great variety of semi-open habitats. It is confined to larger open sections or clearings in extensively wooded areas, forest edges, copses, parks, orchards and residential areas, usually near mature deciduous trees, but often associated with conifers in mountains and in the north. Laying occurs from early April to June and clutches are usually five to eight eggs. The nest is excavated in dead or soft, living wood in unbroken trees. It feeds predominantly on ants with larger ant species generally preferred. Other insects are also taken, as are earthworms and snails and occasionally reptiles, fruits, berries and seeds. The species is resident, although some local winter movements occur (Winkler and Christie 2015).
The main threats to this species are the intensification of agriculture and forestry, and the conversion of pasture to arable land, which considerably reduces ant populations (Winkler and Christie 2015). Intensive forestry has also resulted in the loss of nest-sites (Tucker and Heath 1994). Harsh winter weather can also cause major mortality, effects of which may last for years (Hagemeijer and Blair 1997, Winkler and Christie 2015) and can be exacerbated by the impacts from other threats (Tucker and Heath 1994).
Conservation Actions Underway
Bern Convention Appendix II. There are no known current conservation measures for this species.
Conservation Actions Proposed
Wide-scale habitat conservation needs to be undertaken to maintain nesting and feeding habitats close to each other within structurally diverse landscapes. Actions should include the conservation of old trees for nesting in woodlands, orchards and villages and the maintenance and restoration of feeding grounds such as small meadows, pastures, orchards and heaths (Tucker and Heath 1994).
Text account compilers
Symes, A., Ashpole, J
BirdLife International (2019) Species factsheet: Picus viridis. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 19/10/2019. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2019) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 19/10/2019.