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.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Original Nutcracker

White-breasted Nuthatch in Algonquin Provincia...Image via Wikipedia
White-breasted Nuthatch

Nifty and Nimble Nuthatches!
Nuthatches are are very easy backyard birds to identify. If you see a bird creeping downward on a tree, it’s a nuthatch. It’s the only species that can “walk down a tree.” It needs no tail support because it has incredibly strong feet!

That said, generally you won’t see large numbers of nuthatches in your yard. Most nuthatches visit feeders in ones and twos. They are feisty and aggressive birds, and pairs generally defend a territory of 10 to 30 acres. 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 Nuthatch
Red-breasted and White-breasted nuthatches are the most common visitors to feeders in Michigan. They enjoy suet, sunflower seeds and peanuts. Red-breasted Nuthatches are pickier than White-breasted Nuthatches, and their diet is made up mainly of conifer seeds.

Pygmy Nuthatch (Sitta pygmaea) at a feeder.Image via Wikipedia
Pygmy Nuthatch
Pygmy Nuthatches live in ponderosa forests in the West and survive the bitter winter nights by roosting with 50 to 100 or more other Pygmy Nuthatches in tree cavities. With so many birds in the cavity, they stay warm and can lower their metabolic rate to conserve energy.

A Brown-headed Nuthatch (Sitta pusilla). Photo...Image via Wikipedia
Brown-headed Nuthatch
Another species, Brown-headed Nuthatches, live primarily in the Southeast United States in mature pine forests. These birds live in flocks, although they do not have the “sleepovers” the Pygmy Nuthatches have.

To attract nuthatches to your yard, try a suet or peanut feeder as well as our Wild Birds Unlimited seed cylinders.

Original article:
WBU Educational Resources: Nuthatches
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Shelley said...

Interesting to learn how big of a territory the nuthatch has! (No wonder I only saw 2 of them today at my feeder.) I love watching them!

Wild Birds Unlimited Mid-Michigan said...

You probably get the red-breasted nuthatch year round up north. It's quite a treat for me when I see them at the feeder. We only get the red-breasted nuthatch in the fall/winter down here in mid-Michigan. They're so tiny.

The white-breasted is like my old friend. One always seems to be climbing up and down a tree "yank, yanking" it up when I'm outside.

Thank you for the comment. Birds seem so free and it's interesting when scientists discover they actually follow certain rules that help them survive.