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Listening to Nuthatches

Even if you can’t see them, you can hear them

Nuthatches rank high on the list of favorite backyard birds. Compact and stub-tailed, they climb down tree trunks and along the underside of branches with comical ease. One at a time, they flit in for suet and sunflower seeds. But out in the woods, where they spend most of their time, nuthatches are hard to spot. Fortunately, they give themselves away with their voices. Compare the calls of Red-breasted and White-breasted Nuthatches, then head to the woods.

This show brought to you by The Bobolink Foundation.

Full Transcript

Transcript: 

BirdNote®   

Voices & Vocabularies: Nuthatches Call in the Forest

Written by Bob Sundstrom

This is BirdNote.

[Red-breasted Nuthatch calls, http://macaulaylibrary.org/audio/119424]

Nuthatches rank high on the list of favorite backyard birds. Compact and stub-tailed, they climb down trunks and along the underside of branches with comical ease. One at a time, they flit in for suet and sunflower seeds. But out in the woods, where they spend most of their time, nuthatches are hard to spot. Still, even unseen, they give themselves away with their voices: [Red-breasted Nuthatch calls, http://macaulaylibrary.org/audio/119424]

It’s a drawn-out, nasal quality that marks the calls of a Red-breasted Nuthatch. [Red-breasted Nuthatch calls]  

These calls are often transcribed as “yank, yank.” Red-breasted Nuthatches sometime call rapidly, too, but the nasal edge still rings true. [Red-breasted Nuthatch rapid calls, http://macaulaylibrary.org/audio/100885]

By comparison, the calls of the larger White-breasted Nuthatch have a louder, more honking quality. [White-breasted Nuthatch call, http://macaulaylibrary.org/audio/176266]  

Here’s the smaller Red-breasted Nuthatch’s nasal “yank, yank”: [Red-breasted Nuthatch calls, http://macaulaylibrary.org/audio/119424. 0.18-.23]  And White-breasted, one more time: [White-breasted Nuthatch call, http://macaulaylibrary.org/audio/176266]  

Next time in the woods, keep an ear out for nuthatches.  [Red-breasted Nuthatch calls, http://macaulaylibrary.org/audio/119424. 0.18-.23]

For BirdNote I'm Mary McCann. [White-breasted Nuthatch call, http://macaulaylibrary.org/audio/176266]  

###

Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Red-breasted Nuthatch [119424] and White-breasted Nuthatch [176266] recorded by G A Keller.  
BirdNote’s theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Dominic Black
© 2015 Tune In to Nature.org    May 2017   Narrator: Mary McCann

ID#             nuthatch-03-2015-05-27 nuthatch-03

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