Early this morning, while leading a small group on a birding walk on the Uplands Campus, this Red-throated Wryneck flew into a tall Forest Big-leaf Tree (Anthocleista grandiflora) and began calling urgently above our heads. Whaaa!, whaaa!, whaaa!, whaaa!, whaaa! – like a police car siren – its sharp, almost metallic call rang out in the crisp morning air. After a while, it took a break, peered down at us, then carried on with its territorial chant.
Somewhat larger than a sparrow, this interesting relative of the woodpeckers is resident at Uplands and throughout much of White River and Nelspruit where it favours open country dotted with old trees. It is more often heard than seen, nesting in old woodpecker holes or other cavities and feeding primarily on ants.
Uplands Campus, White River, South Africa. May 2013