26 May 2011

White-breasted Nuthatch

White-breasted Nuthatch walking down
The White-breasted Nuthatch is a lovely species of bird that is non-migratory.  It's very distinct voice can be heard year round, and although not loud in volume, carries quite the distance.  The nuthatch is the only species of bird that can be seen walking headfirst down the trunk of a tree, or clinging to the underside of a branch.

Of the nuthatch species, the White-breasted Nuthatch is the largest.  They are omnivorous, although in winter they eat mainly seed and in summer mostly insects.  They will also eat fruit, as well as nuts, which they jam into the bark of a tree and then pound away at the shell to crack it open.  Doing so makes them sound remarkably like a woodpecker.  The most interesting fact about these birds, is that they smear dead insects and beetles around their  nest hole in the trunk of a tree to deter squirrels and predators such as snakes.

White-breasted Nuthatch foraging
Peeking around the trunk
The White-breasted nuthatch has very strong legs and feet, as well as a long, sharp beak.  This beak is displayed prominently, especially when it is holding it's head straight up while perched on the side of a tree, as shown at the top of the post.  It was this bird's habit, that first brought it to my attention, as it demonstrates an alertness to predators.

White-breasted Nuthatch close-up
If you wish to attract this bird to your back yard or garden, simply add sunflower seeds and peanuts to your bird feeder, or hang some suet.


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