White-breasted Nuthatch

White-breasted Nuthatch

White-breasted Nuthatches visit my backyard birdfeeders. They are very easy to identify with a gray-blue back, white face, black or gray cap, and long narrow bill.

Excerpt from new Backyard Guide Series

The word “nuthatch” refers to their habit of wedging a seed in a crevice and then hacking or “hatching” it open by pounding at it with their chisel-like bill. Nuthatches are often referred to as “upside-down birds” because they forage by probing tree trunks with their heads facing downward. During their journeys down the trunk of a tree, they often pause, and then raise their head so that it is parallel to the ground—a unique posture among birds. The best-known family member is the white-breasted nuthatch, a bird of deciduous woods and tree-filled backyards. In woodlands, listen for the nuthatch’s nasal honking calls anytime. Males and females always forage near each other and, in winter, in a mixed flock with chickadees and titmice.

The white-breasted nuthatch eats both insects and seeds, varying its fare with the seasons. Insects make up nearly 100 percent of their summer diet, with seeds being added in fall and winter. Autumn’s extra seeds and nuts are sometimes stashed in tree bark crevices to be eaten later. White-breasted nuthatches will come to feeders for black-oil sunflower and other seeds, peanuts, or suet, but they tend to abandon backyard feeders almost entirely in spring and summer when insects are plentiful. Nuthatches are cavities nesters, but they seem to prefer tree cavities to nest boxes. Leaving old, dead trees standing—where this can be done safely—offers nuthatches potential foraging, “hatching,” and nesting sites.

From Western Birds: Backyard Guide
by Bill Thompson III and the Editors of Bird Watcher’s Digest

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