Distinctive medium-sized woodpecker with significant variation across its wide range. Always look for a gray face and thin black moustache stripe. Males have a red forehead patch, which females lack. Varies significantly across range: birds from northern Europe to northeastern Asia have pale gray heads and pale green wings; birds in the rest of mainland Asia average darker overall, with dark napes and crowns; Sumatran birds are dark rusty cinnamon overall. Favored habitats vary with range, including many wooded or semi-wooded habitats from lowlands up into the highlands. Most commonly heard calls a sharp, high-pitched “pik” and a descending series of whistled notes that speeds up, then slows.