Wrynecks are a breed of Old World woodpeckers. The wryneck received its name through its ability to bend its head in a near 180 degree fashion. A wryneck would use this defense mechanism whenever it would feel that its nest was being threatened by a predator. It would even stoop to hissing as though it were a snake, in order to push the point further home that the predator shouldn't disturb it, or its nest. Because of this defense mechanism, many locals have come to believe that these birds were cursed. It is said that these birds are the harbingers of bad luck and death, and if a wryneck were to turn its head towards you, you most certainly will die. These birds are also common animals used in witchcraft for this very reason.

There are two variants to this group. They are: The Eurasian wryneck of Europe and Asia, and the Red-throated wryneck of Cameroon.