Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Grey-headed Woodpecker: voice

The most typical vocalisation of Grey-headed Woodpecker Picus canus is a song of some 6-10 fairly musical fluty notes “poo-poo-poo-poo-poo-poo” or “pew-pew-pew-pew-pew-pew” or “pu-pu-pu-pu-pu-pu”. Sometimes a slightly harsher beginning, perhaps like “koo-koo-koo-koo-koo-koo”. This call is made by both sexes though females usually make a shorter version. This call is sometimes a more whistle-like “kee-kee-kee-kee-kee-kee”, descending in pitch, at varied speeds, perhaps “kii-kii-ki-kuu-kuu-kuu". The classic version slows down to a lower pitched dribble after fast start. This “song” is quite easy to imitate and even a poor imitation can attract unpaired or particularly territorial birds. Alarm calls include a croaky, harsh kind of “yaffle”, not unlike that of Green Woodpecker but more of a panicking cackle than a laugh. A Great Spotted-like “kvik” or “kik” is often made briefly in flight. Other calls made when excited include a short, sharp “kuk” or “kook” sometimes in series “kuk-kuk-kuk” and “djack” or “kjak”. When Grey-headeds are excited or nervous they also make a gentle, soft “wee-wee-wee” and a gentle “chuck, chuck, chuck”. During courtship display males call “witty-witty-witty” in series whilst swaying and pointing the bill upwards. In addition, a gentle whinnying sound is made by birds at nest.

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