Nordmann's Greenshank Tringa guttifer
Version: 2.0 — Published February 19, 2021
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Sounds and Vocal Behavior
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Gwaak. It most often produces a singular harsh croaking call described as gwaak (also heard as kwork, kworl, kwag, klaag, kaag, klao, wunk, or wenk) especially in flight (10, 3, 129, 63, 4, 22, 138, 12, 73). Compared to the ringing tyu-tyu-tyu of Common Greenshank, the Nordmann’s Greenshank gwaak is distinctive enough to be recognized in a mixed-species flock by vocalizations alone. These distinctive calls lead local Chinese fishermen to refer to them as “gwaak birds” (129, 63).
Trill. While performing an undulating display flights, male produces a melodious triti-lili, triti-lili, tririli-li, tritili-li, (also heard as fiti-tili-lili, fiti-tili-lili) trill, sometimes preceded by a repeated tyui-tyui-tyui most often heard from other Tringa sandpipers such as Lesser Yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes). This trill usually starts when the individual male is in gliding descent, pauses when in flapping ascent, and resumes trilling in gliding descent (see Behavior: Sexual Behavior). If the bird is flying straight, the trill can occur up to 10 times without interruption for 5–10 minutes (18). Trills have also been described as vote-rio, vote-rio (60).
Alarm call. When tending to a brood, produces piercing and incessant tek-tek-tek, (also often heard as vek-vek-vek, mek-mek-mek, or quik-quik) calls if disturbed; these alarm calls become louder and faster as the disturbance nears (18, 53, 60).
Copulatory chatter. Before copulation, male produces a chatter very similar to the alarm call but much softer (VVP, KM)
Gwaak calls are heard year-round. Trills are common from the first dates of arrival to the breeding grounds (mid-May) and heard until late June to mid-July. Alarm calls begin in late June and continue until late July, or until chicks are fledged (18, 33).
Daily Pattern of Vocalizations
Trills are most intense in the early morning, with a lull in the afternoon, and a resurgence in the evening; seldom does the species trill after dark. Alarm calls are produced whenever disturbances are close to a brood, no matter the time of day (VVP). No information about daily pattern of gwaak calls.
Places of Vocalizing
Trills are produced on the ground as well as in air, over intertidal mudflats, coastal meadows, inland bogs, and (when searching for a suitable nesting location) over inland larch forests. Alarm calls are usually produced on the ground, on elevated structures such as trees, snags, and upright driftwood or while flying in tight, low circles around the disturbance (see Breeding: Parental Care) (18, 33, 11).
Gender differences are difficult to discern as the species is monomorphic. It is thought only males trill, although females could trill as well. It is also thought that, when brooding, the presumed males are more vocal and produce louder and more incessant alarm calls than their female mates which may produce “disinterested” alarm calls unless a threat is particularly close to a brood; however, these gender differences are uncertain (VVP).
Repertoire and Delivery of Songs
Social Context and Presumed Functions of Vocalizations
Vocalizations serve to attract mates during display flights, initiate copulation, make an individuals’ presence known to conspecifics or other birds, greet arriving conspecifics or allies, fend off other shorebirds from foraging territories, warn mates of incoming predators, lead chicks out from inland bogs to coastal meadows, and distract and mob threats to a brood (see Behavior: Sexual Behavior, Social and Interspecific Behavior, Agnostic Behavior, Predation; and Breeding: Parental Care).