Nuthatch – Don’t be fooled!

More from the London trip.

I’m up and out the door at 6:30AM heading to Hyde Park to look for local birds. Which is strange since its 1:30AM in Indiana. Funny what we can fool our bodies into doing.

In a previous post I wrote about how I use eBird to find birds in a given area with a frequency of greater than 6%. I use that information to make flashcards and download vocalizations to learn those birds.

One of the things I didn’t mention is to make sure you take time to familiarize yourself with birds in the 2-5% range. That way if one of the birds under 6% show up you will have a clue to its ID.

Like the Eurasian Nuthatch that I wasn’t prepared.

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An Eurasian Nuthatch calling from the top of a tree. London’s Hyde Park 4/3/16

That’s right. I wasn’t prepared for a nuthatch. The EURASIAN NUTHATCH isn’t seen often in Hyde Park so it came out under 6% on my spreadsheet. And since it resembles our WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCH I figured I’d recognize it easily. So I didn’t spend a lot of time on it.


I should have spent more time studying it. Especially its habits. When was the last time, or anytime, you saw a White-breasted Nuthatch calling for the top of a tree? Me neither. But this Eurasian species sure liked doing it.

I should have listened to the call one more time. It’s nothing like a White-breasted Nuthatch.

I still hadn’t figured out what the bird was and it kept calling and I kept watching. (Regular readers will know I don’t carry a field guide. Not even in a new place. I take notes and figure it out when I get back. Which I did for this nuthatch.)

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Should have been an easy ID. The bird is farther away than what it appears and my mind couldn’t wrap around the call being a Nuthatch. London’s Hyde Park 4/3/16
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Now in this pose there is no doubt about its identity – upturned bill, short tail, blue-gray above, and buffy below. London’s Hyde Park 4/3/16

From the coloring the only bird I could think of was a Northern Wheatear but they are ground birds.

Finally I had to get back to the hotel and I’m heading out of the park when it dawns on me. A Nuthatch! I think the process of elimination finally nailed it.

So the moral of the story is to make sure you spend a little time on those 2-5 percenters.

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