About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Facts every backyard birder wants know about Nuthatches

Red Breasted Nuthatch
  • The name Nuthatch probably results from the corruption of the word “nuthack” which refers to its’ habit of hacking away at a seed with its beak until it opens.
  • Nuthatches are probably one of the easiest backyard birds to identify. Known as the “upside down” bird, it is often observed creeping headfirst down tree trunks while searching cracks and crevices for insect food.
  • The Red-breasted Nuthatch has three toes that face forward, a greatly enlarged hind toe (the hallux) that faces backward, and a stubby tail. They are able to walk head first down the trunks of trees by moving only one foot at a time while the hallux toe on the other foot holds firmly to the bark. Because the toe provides secure footing it doesn’t need tail support, and its short tail allows more maneuvering.
  • They can roost with chickadees in the winter to increase their survival.
    Most nuthatches visit feeders in ones and twos. They feast on seeds and insects found in trees, and many times will hide seeds from feeders in tree bark for a snack later in the day or breakfast the next morning.
  • Red-breasted Nuthatches are pickier than White-breasted Nuthatches, and their diet is made up mainly of conifer seeds. During years when these seeds aren’t plentiful, Red-breasted Nuthatches will move south to mid-Michigan for the winter (or irrupt) in search of food.

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