Eurasian Wryneck Jynx torquilla


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). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to 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.

Population justification
In Europe, the breeding population is estimated to number 674,000-1,600,000 pairs, which equates to 1,350,000-3,200,000 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015). Europe forms approximately 45% of the global range, so a very preliminary estimate of the global population size is 3,000,000-7,100,000 mature individuals, although further validation of this estimate is needed. The population is therefore placed in the band 3,000,000-7,199,999 mature individuals.

Trend justification
The population has suffered a long term reduction in numbers and range since the mid 19th century in west and central Europe owing to increased rain during the breeding season caused by climatic changes, agricultural improvement, loss of orchards and unimproved meadows, replacement of hardwoods with conifer plantations and widespread over-use of pesticides and herbicides (del Hoyo et al. 2002). In Europe, trends between 1980 and 2013 show that populations have undergone a moderate decline (EBCC 2015). In the short-term (2000-2012) the European population is estimated to have increased (BirdLife International 2015).

Distribution and population


This species uses open forest, clearings, woodland with low undergrowth, wooded pasture and unimproved meadowland with scattered trees so long as dry and sunlit, and grass areas not too well developed. It avoids damper vegetation and higher mountains (Winkler et al. 2015). It is territorial and partners display by head-swinging with ruffled head feathers. Laying occurs from May to June. The nest-site is selected by both sexes and is usually in a natural cavity, an old hole of another woodpecker, or an artificial nestbox. Typically seven to twelve eggs are laid (Winkler et al. 2015). It feeds mostly on the larvae and pupae of ants. In northern areas or during bad weather insects, spiders, even tadpoles and berries may be fed to young (Tucker and Heath 1994). Across most of its range, it is fully migratory with breeding birds from Europe and western Asia wintering in western, central and eastern Africa and eastern populations wintering in the northern and central Indian Subcontinent and south-east Asia (Winkler et al. 2015).


Declines have been attributed to climatic changes, resulting in increased rainfall during the breeding season (Hagemeijer and Blair 1997, Winkler et al. 2015). Since the 1950s, the loss of important such as orchards and unimproved meadows and the replacement of hardwoods with conifers have also caused declines and the conversion of many areas to agriculture combined with an increase in the use of pesticides have also decreased the abundance of ants (Winkler et al. 2015).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
Bern Convention Appendix II. It is listed as a priority species in the U.K. Biodiversity Action Plan.

Conservation Actions Proposed
The use of pesticides should be reduced in agricultural areas and orchards and low-intensity management techniques applied to meadows, pastures and orchards in order to help sustain ant populations. These habitats should also be preserved from conversion to intensively managed open fields or commercial forestry plantations. In addition suitable nest-sites in woods and along forest edges should be protected and where nest-sites are limiting, nest boxes should be erected (Tucker and Heath 1994).


Text account compilers
Symes, A., Butchart, S., Ekstrom, J.

Dowsett, R.J.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2019) Species factsheet: Jynx torquilla. Downloaded from on 23/08/2019. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2019) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 23/08/2019.