White-breasted Nuthatch

Sitta carolinensis

White-breasted Nuthatch
Photo courtesy of Tom Grey

Nuthatches are distinguished by their habit of going down tree trunks head first. They do not use their tail as a brace; rather, they rely on extremely strong feet to grasp tree bark. By traveling down the tree trunk, the nuthatches can see insects hidden from view as they travel up the trunk.

Description:
A bluish-gray bird with a black cap; pure white breast and belly; short tail. Short, sharp bill-6 in (13-15 cm)
Voice:
A mellow too too too; a low quit quit; a high-pitched querr.
Food:
Insects, insect eggs, beetles,
spiders, ants, caterpillars; both parents feed young. During the winter they eat pine nuts, acorns.
Nest:
Courtship activity begins in early spring, signaled by lots of male singing. Some birds mate for life, some for a few seasons. Nest made in natural tree cavities, old woodpecker holes. They like holes facing away from prevailing winds, making it easier to maintain nest warmth. Nests are lined with leaves, hair and fur. Clutch of 5-7 eggs are creamy white and dotted with reddish brown or lilac marks. Incubated 12-18 days.
Habitat:
Resident of coniferous and mixed wood forests up to 10,500 ft.
Range:
Throughout much of U.S.
Migration:
Stays in Long Valley during winter months.
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