The Eurasian Wryneck (Jynx torquilla) is a species of bird that is part of the family of woodpeckers. It breeds in the temperate regions of Europe and Asia. It is a migratory species and winters in tropical Africa and southern Asia. Its habitat is open woodland and orchards. It can also be seen in sandy areas along its migration route as it forages for ants.
The wryneck gets its name from the ability to turn its head nearly 180 degrees. When disturbed, it uses this snake-like head twisting and hisses at the intruder. This odd behavior led to its use in witchcraft, hence to put a “jinx” on someone.
The bill of the Eurasian Wryneck is shorter and less dagger-like than in true woodpeckers. It forages for ants and other insects by picking through decaying wood or bare soil. They reuse woodpecker holes for nesting, rather than making their own holes. The eggs are white.
There are six subspecies in the genus Jynx.