Weather and Effort: December 17 and 18, 2008
When did you watch your feeders? Day 1:   morning   afternoon
Day 2:   morning  afternoon
Estimated cumulative time: 1 to 4 hours
Daylight temperature: -9 to 0° C (15 to 32° F) low
1 to 10° C (33 to 50° F) high
Daylight precipitation: None – –
Total depth of ice/snow cover: None


Checklist for FeederWatch California Region Birds

Mourning Dove 8
Anna’s Hummingbird 2
Steller’s Jay 4
Western Scrub-Jay 6
Chestnut-backed Chickadee 3
Oak Titmouse 1
White-breasted Nuthatch 1
American Robin 1
California Towhee 2
White-crowned Sparrow 8
Golden-crowned Sparrow 5
Dark-eyed Junco 5
House Finch 8    (0 with eye disease)


Photo courtesy of Project FeederWatch

White-breasted Nuthatch
A White-breasted Nuthatch visits my suet feeder and the platform ground feeder. I only see one bird at a time although there must be more. I see them hopping up and down and around tree trunks searching for insects.

A common bird of deciduous forests and wooded suburbs, the White-breasted Nuthatch can be seen hopping headfirst down the trunks of trees in search of insect food. It frequents bird feeders and takes sunflower seeds off to the side of a tree, where it wedges them into a crevice and hammers them open.


  • Large nuthatch; creeps headfirst down tree trunks.
  • Dark gray or black cap.
  • Bright white face and underparts.
  • Blue-gray upper parts.
  • Long bill either straight or slightly upturned.
  • Size: 13-14 cm (5-6 in)
  • Wingspan: 20-27 cm (8-11 in)
  • Weight: 18-30 g (0.64-1.06 ounces)

Sex Differences
Sexes similar; male with black cap, female with grayer cap.

Song a series of soft, slightly nasal “what, what, what” notes. Call a soft “yank.

Conservation Status
Common and widespread. Populations increasing over most of range.

Cool Facts


  • Nuthatches gather nuts and seeds, jam them into tree bark, and hammer or “hatch” the food open with their bills. 


  • The White-breasted Nuthatch is normally territorial throughout the year, with pairs staying together. The male is more vigilant when he forages alone than when he is with the female. The female, however, is in danger of having the more dominant male displace her from foraging sites, and she is more vigilant when he is around than when she is alone. 


  • In winter, the White-breasted Nuthatch joins foraging flocks led by chickadees or titmice. One explanation for these flocks is that the birds gain protection from predators by the vigilance of the other birds. In support of this idea, one study found that if titmice were removed from a flock, nuthatches were more wary and reluctant to come to exposed bird feeders.

Visit Project FeederWatch for more information and to find out how you can become a citizen scientist and count the birds you your own backyard!