WryneckWRYNECK (Jynx torquilla)

Torcol fourmilier


The Wryneck is a rather strange member of the woodpecker family, in fact it exists in its own sub-family. It is fairly small, brown with very complex camouflage colouration that can make it hard to see. It lacks the sturdy bill of true woodpeckers and is often seen on the ground where it will hop in a jerky fashion, often with the tail cocked up, but is generally rather stealthy in its movements. It gets its rather strange name from an ability to flex its neck in different directions, even twisting around to look behind it.


In Switzerland it is not uncommon in gardens, orchards and semi-open country usually up to about 1200m but can occur as high as 2400m. It migrates to Africa in the winter and upon return in the spring it is quite vocal which is often the easiest way to detect it. The call is a nasal "tui-tui-tui" sound somewhat reminiscent of a Green Woodpecker, but also sounding a little like a small falcon. Here are two birds (and I presumed a pair - although males and females are only told apart with difficulty) which were quite close to each other and clearly one is responding to the call of the other - a river is in the background:


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WryneckIf we look at one phrase in the sonogram we can see the harmonics quite clearly, with most of the sound energy at about 3KHz but also see that each note has a slight downward inflection:



























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