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white-breasted nuthatch seems rather dapper with its black cap,
blue-gray back and white underparts. No other nuthatch has white
cheeks. Like a tiny woodpecker, this sparrow-sized nuthatch also
stands out because of its strong bill and erratic flight patterns.
moves freely up and down tree trunks, sometimes descending to
the ground. By bounding headfirst, it can better scrutinize the
bark for its favored delicacies - insects and spiders and their
eggs and pupae. An ornithologist once found more than 1,600 cankerworm
eggs in the stomach of one of these nuthatches.
white-breasted nuthatch also likes the nuts of deciduous trees
(particularly acorns, hickory nuts and beechnuts), seeds and berries.
In the fall, it stores food under loose bark. And in the winter,
it frequents feeding stations stocked with suet, sunflower seeds,
peanut butter mix, nutmeats or finely cracked corn. The white-breasted
nuthatch can become so tame around feeders that you can feed it
right out of your hand. However, it will drive away chickadees.
nuthatch nests in natural cavities and knotholes of dead trees,
raising four to ten chicks from March to June. The bird appears
throughout the United States, except for most of the Great Plains.
typical call is a nasal yank yank yank. It also sings
short, rapid series of monotone notes, such as hit hit hit
or who who who.
Text © 1999 Terry White, Drawing ©
1999 Bill Harrah