Wood-Pecker, or Picus, L. a genus of birds comprising 10 species, 4 of which are frequently met with in Britain : the following of these are the most remarkable.
1. The viridis, or Green Woodpecker, is about the size of a throstle; of a greenish-yellow shade; and feeds entirely on insects: its principal employment consists in climbing up and down the trunks or boughs of trees, which it perforates with such exactness, as if the holes were made with human art. After having sufficiently excavated an unsound tree, the female deposits 5 or 6 semi-transparent, white eggs; and the young brood are taught to ascend and descend trees, before they are able to fly. - These active birds are said to occasion great havock among bees, in the winter season.
2. The minor, or Least-spotted Wood-pecker, scarcely weighs one ounce, being only about 6 inches in length, and 11 in breadth ; it is likewise a formidable enemy to bees : - in the winter, this bird frequents orchards, whither it resorts for the purpose of picking up the larvae of caterpillars, and other insects. It also builds its nest in holes of trees, previously scooped out with its penetrating bill; and is known in some parts of Eng-land, by the name of hickwall.
Wood-peckers, though eaten by the Italians, do not form an article of food at the British tables.