It is very similar to the green woodpecker, but has thinner and shorter bill, more uniform grey head pattern, narrower dark moustache stripe and moss green upperparts instead of bright yellow-green. The male has red front.
Grey-headed woodpeckers live in leaf forests and mixed forests. They breed in May and lay five to ten eggs which are brought up by both parents. The young hatch after 15–17 days, and learn to fly in four weeks. In summer, the grey-headed woodpecker eats maggots, beetle larvae and other insects. In winter it takes seeds, and can even come to garden feeding places, especially if fat is offered.