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common name for a primitive, unspecialized bird of the genus Jynx. The name is said to derive from their habit of twisting their necks when disturbed. Unlike other members of the family Picidae, which includes the woodpeckerswoodpecker,
common name for members of the Picidae, a large family of climbing birds found in most parts of the world. Woodpeckers typically have sharp, chisellike bills for pecking holes in tree trunks, and long, barbed, extensible tongues with which they impale their insect
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 and piculets, wrynecks neither climb nor drill, but rather perch horizontally and feed aground. Their bills are weaker and more rounded than those of true woodpeckers, and their long tongues are smooth, lacking the barbs and bristles of the other members of the group. They are thus thought to be ancestral to the more specialized members of the family. Two species of wrynecks are recognized: the migratory Eurasian wryneck (J. torquilla), and the tropical African wryneck (J. ruficollis). Both are solitary birds with soft, cryptically mottled plumage of grays, blacks, and browns. They feed on a number of insects but especially prefer ants. Like the other members of the family, they nest in unlined tree holes, where they lay their glossy, pure white eggs. The young are blind and featherless at birth. Wrynecks are classified in the phylum ChordataChordata
, phylum of animals having a notochord, or dorsal stiffening rod, as the chief internal skeletal support at some stage of their development. Most chordates are vertebrates (animals with backbones), but the phylum also includes some small marine invertebrate animals.
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, subphylum Vertebrata, class Aves, order Piciformes, family Picidae.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(Jynx torquilla), a bird of the Picidae family. Length, 20 cm. Unlike woodpeckers, wrynecks cannot peck wood and have soft tailfeathers. They are distributed in Europe, Asia, and northwestern Africa. In the USSR they are found in mixed and broad-leaved forests and parks, north to the 62° or 64° parallel. They are migratory birds. Wrynecks begin breeding in May and nest in tree hollows and artificial nests, more rarely in burrows. There are 6 to 12 eggs in a clutch. When a nesting wryneck is disturbed, it stretches out its neck, turns it, and hisses. It feeds on insects, mostly ants, which it collects on anthills.


Ptitsy Sovetskogo Soiuza, vol. 1. Edited by G. P. Dement’ev and N. A. Gladkov. Moscow, 1951.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


either of two cryptically coloured Old World woodpeckers, Jynx torquilla or J. ruficollis, which do not drum on trees
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
A spokesman for the RSPB said wrynecks are small sparrow-sized birds, appearing greyish overall, with brown and buff mottling.
Bardsey had several good records including ortolan bunting, melodious and icterine warblers and wryneck. Wryneck can turn up anywhere so keep eyes peeled.
Four Wrynecks were also found on Bardsey and another at Uwchmynydd.
Any garden or patch of acacia could hold shrikes, wrynecks and warblers, feeding hungrily on the way north and compost heaps (not really recommended in 110 degrees) attracted flocks of red throated pipits, wheatears and wagtails.