The woods are alive with the sound of … grunting. We seem to have more than our usual share of Red-Breasted Nuthatches that have decided to stay here this winter. They complain about everything, including each other.

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Their favorite “song” sounds like a series of guttural notes made by a kazoo: “Aank-Ennk, Aank-Ennk.” Red-Breasted Nuthatches and White-Breasted Nuthatches (which we also have) get their first names from their color and their last names from their habit of “hatching” nuts into tree crevices so that they can jack-hammer the tough food open with their bills.

A group of these grumpy birds is called a “Jar of Nuthatches.” Why? No one seems to know. Maybe it’s because their sounds are so jarring. (Brooklin, Maine)