It is 25–28 cm long and weighs 130-180 grams. Its plumage closely resembles its near relative the European Green Woodpecker. It has green upperparts, pale grey underparts and a yellow rump. It has a grey head with black moustache, and the male has a red crown. It has a shorter neck, slimmer bill and slightly rounder head than the Green Woodpecker.
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.