White-breasted Nuthatch

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Common Name: White-breasted Nuthatch
Scientific Name: Sitta carolinensis

Size: 5.1-5.5 inches (13-14 cm); Wingspan: 7.9-10.6 inches (20-27 cm)

Habitat: North America; throughout the continental United States, Mexico and southern Canada.

They are prefer mature woods, and more likely in deciduous than coniferous forests. They are found at woodland edges and in open areas with large trees, such as parks, wooded suburbs, and yards.

Status: Not Threatened. Global population: Unknown population. White-breasted Nuthatches are common and widespread, and their populations seem to be stable and possibly increasing. Like all birds that nest in holes in trees, White-breasted Nuthatches depend on having dead or partially dead trees left standing in their habitat. Too much pruning or felling of dead wood can reduce the nesting opportunities for this species.

Diet: Mainly insects, including weevil larvae, wood-boring beetle larvae, other beetles, tree hoppers, scale insects, ants, gall fly larvae, caterpillars (including gypsy moths and tent caterpillars), stinkbugs, and click beetles, as well as spiders. They also eat seeds and nuts, including acorns, hawthorn, sunflower seeds, and sometimes crops such as corn. At birdfeeders they eat sunflower seeds, peanuts, suet, and peanut butter.

Nuthatches make lots of quick trips to and from feeding sources –storing the seeds and suet for later use in the winter, by wedging them into furrows in the bark of nearby trees.

Nesting: The White-breasted Nuthatch is normally territorial throughout the year, with pairs staying together.

They typically build their nests in natural tree cavities or abandoned woodpecker holes. They sometimes enlarge these holes but rarely excavate them entirely on their own (as Red-breasted Nuthatches often do). Nuthatches are smaller than woodpeckers, and White-breasted Nuthatches don’t seem bothered by nest holes considerably larger than they are. Despite their association with deciduous woods, they nest in both coniferous and deciduous trees. White-breasted Nuthatches sometimes use nest boxes.

They have usually one brood a year and lay 5-9 eggs. The eggs are creamy white to pinkish-white in color with speckles of reddish brown, gray, or purple. The nesting period last approximately 26 days with the incubation period being 13-14 days.

Cool Facts: It is the largest Nuthatch. White breasted Nuthatches prefer deciduous forests, while the Red-breasted Nuthatches prefer coniferous forests.

Nuthatches forage up, down, and sideways over tree trunks and around large branches. They often (though not always) start high in trees and move down them head first, pausing to crane their necks up and back, toward the horizontal, for a look around. Nuthatches are the only birds in the world that can move in a downward motion on a tree or limb.

They probe into bark crevices or chip away at wood to find food. When they find large nuts and seeds, they jam them into the bark and hammer them open. White-breasted Nuthatches often store seeds and insects one at a time, and somewhat haphazardly, under loose bark on their territory. They typically hide the food by covering it with a piece of bark, lichen, moss, or snow. White-breasted Nuthatches live in pairs year round and chase other nuthatches from their territory. Agitated birds fan their tails, flick their wings, or raise the feathers of the back. A bird backing down from a confrontation typically raises its bill and tail, and droops its wings.

In winter, White-breasted Nuthatches join foraging flocks led by chickadees or titmice, perhaps partly because it makes food easier to find and partly because more birds can keep an eye out for predators. One study found that when titmice were removed from a flock, nuthatches were more wary and less willing to visit exposed bird feeders.

Nuthatches have a lifespan 8-10 years.

Found in Songbird Remix Woodland Jewels

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