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, October 25, 2010

What says eh-eh, yank-yank?

Trick question. It's a conversation between Dolly and a Red-breasted Nuthatch. Dolly is behind the window of course.

The first thing new customers say when they walk in the door of the Wild Birds Unlimited-East Lansing store is, "Isn't it ironic to have cats in a bird store?" I usually respond that we're all bird lovers here. And that's true.

Dolly alerted me that the first Red-breasted Nuthatch of the season had arrived! I joined Dolly at the window and we counted at least four nuthatches in the tree looking for pinecone seeds and yank-yanking it up. Most woodpeckers and nuthaches have a call that sort of sounds like they are laughing. Click HERE to play a recording of a nuthach.

Red Breasted Nuthatch/Sitta CanadensisImage via WikipediaAdult Red-breasted Nuthatches have gray backs with rust-colored breasts. But the first thing I notice are the black caps and white stripes above the eyes. Females are less colorful, with a more washed-out rust color on the belly.

As they move along the trunks and branches of trees, nuthatches glean bugs such as beetles, pine woodborers, and spiders. In the fall and winter, they like the seeds of fir, pine, and spruce trees, and are also common visitors at nut, sunflower, mealworm, and suet feeders.

In mid-Michigan we usually only see the red-breasted in the winter unlike the White-breasted Nuthatch which is common year-round.  

So keep your eyes and ears open for these darling little birds. They are built to walk any direction with greatly enlarged hind toes and a short tail.

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Anonymous said...

My cats and I watch birds every day. The cats make a little sound that is like a warble. Too cute.

Wild Birds Unlimited Mid-Michigan said...

I like the cat chatter too. Maybe a little too much. When I see a big bird like a Mourning Dove near the window, I'll make the chatter unconsciously to call the cats over quickly.

Joy K. said...

I'm amused that our local pet supply store keeps birdseed, feeders, and suet on one side of the aisle, and cat toys on the other side.

Wild Birds Unlimited Mid-Michigan said...

Birdfeeding is a hobby that we often promote as a good way to help children learn about nature. (Which is true.) But at least 50% of our customers start bird feeding to entertain their indoor cats.

Dennis Keefe said...

Saw my first juncos this week, but no red breasted nuthatches. Last year was the first that we did not see any. Hope we do better this year.