The Nuthatches

Categories: Birds.

We just love watching the various birds that visit the backyard feeders.  Most of the feeders are set up so they are within good viewing distance of the windows.
The cameras are always ready to capture the birds through our lenses.   We are getting much better at identification but the birding books are always close at hand.  We’ve learned to look at beaks, eye markings, belly colours, tail lengths and more.

white breasted nuthatch at craftygardener.ca

Nuthatches, sometimes called the upside down birds, are the birds that go down the tree head first.   There are 2 varieties of nuthatch … the white breasted and the red breasted that visit the backyard.  Looking quickly you might think they are the same bird but there are a few differences.  If you are unsure which type you are seeing, perhaps these photos will help you out.  There are 17 species of nuthatches in the world with 3 of those species common in Canada … red breasted, white breasted, and pygmy.

The red breasted or Sitta canadensis is the slightly smaller of the two.  There is a blush of red-orange on its chest.  It also has a streak of white on its head by the eyes.  It can usually be seen upside down on the peanut feeder or moving downward on the tree trunks.

nuthatch rb1a

You can see the long beak, great for pecking into peanuts.  It loves this particular peanut feeder (as do the woodpeckers) and it seems we are constantly filling it.  Here you can see the dark eye stripe of the red breasted nuthatch.  The short tail is an adaptation that helps it move downward on trees.

red breasted nuthatch at craftygardener.ca

From time to time it sits the right way up.  They nest in tree cavities and will have from 4 to 10 eggs.

This is the white breasted or Sitta carolinensis nuthatch which is a little larger than the red breasted nuthatch. It has a white breast and a black head and a bluish gray back.  This is a characteristic pose of the nuthatch … upside down with its head poking out.

nuthatch wb1aa

They will hop downwards on tree trunks looking for insects.  This makes them omnivorous which means eating both insects and seeds.

white breasted nuthatch at craftygardener.ca

The coconut feeder and the log feeder filled with all season suet is a big hit with a lot of the birds.

Both are year round residents in our part of Ontario but we see them more frequently in the winter when they love to visit the feeders.  Notice the difference in the markings around the eyes and the colouring on the bellies.

Do you have nuthatches visiting your feeders?  What variety are they?

I’m sharing with Wild Bird WednesdayI’d Rather B Birdin’ and Saturday’s Critters.

ABC Wednesday is up to N.  N for nuthatches.

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Comments

    • Wow, a hummingbird visit, that is awesome. I need to get mine feeder out and cleaned for the season, as they should be returning here in the next couple of weeks. We spotted a Pacific loon in the Victoria harbour at the end of last year, just one on its own floating around the boats. Hope your loons come back to nest this year.

  1. Lovely photos , I like these little birds they are quite comical to photograph and watch the Red breasted nuthatch is also smaller then the White breasted but both are amazing birds . Our Oriels usually return the end of this month to the beginning of May and the Hummers middle of May I so look forward to their return oh and our Warblers to cant forget them yeah ok I just love birds lol ! Thanks for sharing , Have a good week !
    Elaine recently posted..It Was A Quiet Weekend .My Profile

    • Haven’t seen the nuthatches for awhile, and we didn’t see many red breasted ones this year. I’m getting the hummer and oriole feeders out today and cleaning them up ready to put out in a week or so. Predictions are for ice rain this weekend – yuck!

  2. Lovely series on the Nuthatches. The Whited-breasted variety are my favourite because of their sounds. In fact, some of their chatter reminds me of the cartoon character Mr. Magoo! lol
    Daniel LaFrance recently posted..EyelinerMy Profile

  3. Great shots of the Nuthatches Linda, I love watching the birds when they come around. I do believe we will have lots at in Orillia Dana & Al have seen them so looking forward to watching them. Enjoy this beautiful day, hope you have the same.

  4. Hello, I love all the Nuthatches. Awesome closeups. The Red-breasted Nuthatches are not usually seen here, maybe once in a while.
    Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Thanks also for the comment. Happy Saturday, enjoy your weekend!

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