The Wryneck details the natural history and cultural symbolism of a most unusual woodpecker – a species that neither excavates nest holes in trees, nor bores into wood to find insect prey. The elusive Wryneck is best renowned for performing a twisting, writhing head and neck display when threatened, but this ground-breaking study reveals many more secrets of its behaviour and evolution. Detailed information is presented on the species' origins, taxonomy, anatomy, appearance, moult, calls, distribution, conservation status, habitats, movements, breeding, diet and relationships, along with a chapter on its closest relative, the Red-throated Wryneck.
The text is richly illustrated throughout with high quality photographs as well as sound spectrograms. This all-encompassing and engaging account has been written for a wide audience, whether professional ornithologist, citizen scientist, amateur birder, woodpecker aficionado and simply someone who wishes to learn more about this curious and remarkable bird.
Gerard Gorman is a global authority on the Picidae. He has published numerous papers and six previous books on this fascinating family of birds, including Woodpeckers of the World: The Complete Guide (Helm 2014) and The Green Woodpecker (Picus Press 2020). For the past 30 years, he has travelled the world studying woodpeckers, believing that time in the field is the only way to really get to know them. In this book, the author augments many hours watching wrynecks with comprehensive literature research, creating what will surely be the definitive work on the species. Gorman lives in Budapest and is a founder member and current leader of the Hungarian Woodpecker Working Group.
"Few birds are as funny as their names, but the wrynecks come close. These captivatingly bizarre little woodpeckers now have the book they deserve, from the talented pen of one of the world's top picidologists. Gerard Gorman gives his readers the most detailed look ever into the wryneck's biology, along with an engaging, sometimes startling account of what these birds have meant to human culture over the millennia. Highly recommended if you love wrynecks – and even more highly if you don't yet."
– Rick Wright, author and ornithologist
"I find Gorman's book on wrynecks extremely attractive. It is comprehensive, good to read and well researched. Brilliant pictures of the birds and of morphological peculiarities allow unusual insights into the life of this unusual bird genus."
– Prof. Dr. Volker Zahner, author and zoologist
"The Wryneck is destined to become the definitive work on this weird and wonderful bird."
– Brian Jackman, journalist and author
"As the common name suggests the Wryneck is one of our weirdest birds. Gerard Gorman has combined his own knowledge of the birds with the extensive literature to produce this beautifully written and produced monograph. It really is a joy to read. To quote Gerard about his birds "time in the field is the only way to get to know them" – he certainly does know them."
– Ken and Linda Smith, Woodpecker Network
"For too long this little master of disguise has lived in the shadow of its woodpecker relatives. In this comprehensive single-species account it finally gets the star treatment it richly deserves from Europe's leading expert on the group. Gerard Gorman reveals the wryneck as one of the most fascinating, subtly beautiful and sought after of all birds."
– Mark Cocker, author and naturalist
"Gerard Gorman's book about wrynecks is a comprehensive, well-written and beautifully illustrated portrait of these birds. It is a must-read for all working on or interested in this special woodpecker species!"
– Dr. Gilberto Pasinelli, Swiss Ornithological Institute
"This is a fascinating and valuable study of a hugely charismatic species, by our most authoritative writer on woodpeckers and their relations. Fluent, comprehensive, accessible and beautifully illustrated, The Wryneck explores every aspect of the lives of these curious but little-understood birds, and the various ways – through culture, folklore and myth – in which they have found their way into our lives too."
– Richard Smyth, author of An Indifference of Birds and A Sweet, Wild Note