Home of the Practically Perfect Pink Phlox and other native plants for pollinators

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Oh, how I love you, little Nuthatch!


 I love all the little birds that visit and live in my garden. Those of you who are long time readers know that the Tufted Titmouse is my favorite, and that the Chickadee was one of the first birds I could identify, but, you might not know that the agile little White-breasted Nuthatch is another favorite. They're quite cute with their clean black, gray, and white markings. I love watching them move about the garden. I see them clinging to the house bricks while waiting their turn at the feeder; climbing upside down a tree trunk searching for insects; grabbing a seed to hide in the bark of the nearest tree. They are busy little songbirds and yack as they search the garden for food.

White-breasted Nuthatches never migrate and there are always nesting pairs in my garden. In wilder places they might travel during the winter with small foraging bands of Chickadees and Titmice.  Scientists think that it increases their chances for finding food and keeps them safe with many  other birds watching for prey. They're active and noisy birds and love insects and meaty seeds. They will visit the sunflower and suet feeders all winter long, carrying the large seeds to nearby tree trunks to "hatch" them open with a whack from their sharp bills or to hide them for later use.
They love meaty Sunflower seeds
Habitat: They do not usually migrate, but, live in mature woods, deciduous forests, at woodland edges and in open areas with large trees (parks, wooded suburbs, and yards). 
From Audubon

Food: They will eat many kinds of insects and larvae, beetles, caterpillars (including gypsy moths and tent caterpillars), stinkbugs, and spiders. They also eat acorns, hawthorn and sunflower seeds. Load your feeders with sunflower seeds, peanuts, suet, and peanut butter and they will happily visit.

Nesting: They typically build their nests in natural tree cavities or abandoned woodpecker holes.

Sitta carolinensis
Although, the Nuthatch's more characteristic pose is upside down with its head extended backwards, I love this photo of Sitta carolinensis sitting on a tree branch with it's feathers ruffled in the cold February wind.

Little birds work so hard to stay warm in winter; I'm glad my garden has plenty of places for them to roost on cold nights~evergreens, trees with nesting cavities and even empty birdhouses offer shelter from the cold weather.
Nuthatch is bottom up at the bird bath

Please don't forget to have water in the winter garden! Your birds will appreciate it.

xoxogail

For other posts on my little friends:
Tufted Titmouse
Garden Visitors 
Winter's For the Birds

Gail Eichelberger is a gardener and therapist in Middle Tennessee. She loves wildflowers and native plants and thoroughly enjoys writing about the ones she grows at Clay and Limestone. She reminds all that the words and images are the property of the author and cannot be used without written permission.

15 comments:

  1. They are such captivating little birds. I don't think I've seen any in my garden.

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  2. Beautiful bird photos!
    Happy Valentines Day!
    Lea

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  3. We have nuthatches here too, and I love them. One of the few we have here that we also had on the East Coast, although probably slightly different species.

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  4. Since we added the fountain on the deck, the feeders are even busier. I always learn so much at your blog Gail. Thank you so much.~~Dee

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  5. I love my nutties... very cold winter in near Buffalo NY and am trying to keep everyone fed... I see you are a therapist. My psychologist daughter just sent me a book on mindfulness as she uses in her practice... Ahh.. spring....Michelle

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  6. Great photos. Sadly, I've never seen these cute little nuthatches in my area of coastal Southern California- I must be part of that little white strip shown in the habitat map. Happy Valentine's Day!

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  7. Hi Lisa, the nuthatches are among my favorites too. I've seen them visiting the suet feeder as well as peanuts and sunflowers. I do enjoy the birds. When we gardeners don't have flowers to obsess over, we can spend time watching the birds. I wonder what the blue bird is doing there in the snow. Do you usually see them this early in the season?

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  8. Hi Lisa, the nuthatches are among my favorites too. I've seen them visiting the suet feeder as well as peanuts and sunflowers. I do enjoy the birds. When we gardeners don't have flowers to obsess over, we can spend time watching the birds. I wonder what the blue bird is doing there in the snow. Do you usually see them this early in the season?

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  9. They are cute little buddies, aren't they? Great photos of your feathered friends!

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  10. My nuthatches visit my garden/trees all year. And I loved seeing them come out and be counted even in all the snow and cold....they are enjoying the suet feeder. I agree....great photos Gail. I love their acrobatics.

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  11. I'm also very fond of nuthatches. They seem to be fond of the suet and peanuts at my feeders, but I also see them creeping vertically up the trunks of large shade trees. Sadly they did not show themselves for the Great Backyard Bird Count.

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  12. What a darling little bird! I have a few different flocks of birds that come eat and bath here, some even nest. We are to far south for the Nuthatches. Thank you for sharing!

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Let us be grateful to people who make us happy;
they are the charming gardeners
who make our souls blossom.


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