Grey-headed Woodpecker Bird is similar to the Green Woodpecker, but smaller, slimmer and longer tailed. The bill is slimmer and shorter, and the head pattern is quite different, giving it a unique expression. The head is a clean grey, with an orangey-brown eye, a restricted black patch on the lores and a narrow black malar stripe. Only the Grey-headed Woodpecker Bird (male) has red on the head, confined to the forecrown. The upperparts of Grey-headed Woodpecker Bird are a cold green, and the slightly brighter rump is less contrasting than on Green Woodpecker. The underparts are pale grey green and unmarked. Generally shyer than the Green, spending less time on the ground.
Never recorded in Britain, Grey-headed Woodpecker Bird is resident in parts of Scandinavia and central France eastwards. It is found in subtly different habitat from that of the Green Woodpecker, extending more into upland areas. It occurs in mature deciduous forest, open woodland with beech, oak and hornbeam, and locally in mixed coniferous forest. It favours forest edge, riverine, swampy and marshy woods, parklands with mature trees, and occasionally gardens.
The advertising song is similar to that of the Green, but is slower, more fluty and drawn out, typically lasting for 4-9 notes, with 3.5-4 notes per second. The call of Grey Headed Woodpecker Bird decelerates and drops in pitch over the sequence, such as "huwl'huwl'huw-huw-huuw..." or "hi'hi'hi'hii hii hiou", often extended to more than 10 notes at an even slower rate and fading away. The Green's 'yaffle' differs in that it accelerates slightly. Short calls given while agitated are a short "jhk" or "kik", and a Green Woodpeckerlike "kya'kya'kya'kyak", given both in flight and when perched.