White-breasted Nuthatch
Sitta carolinensis
Family Sittidae

Known for its habit of climbing down trees headfirst in spiral pattern, the white-breasted nuthatch is the most abundant nuthatch in the Northeast.  It often visits feeders to take whole nuts and wedges them in grooves in tree bark, to hatch them open.

Identifying Traits (male):

  • Short, stocky body
  • Slaty blue-grey above, white below
  • Black cap and collar
  • Slender, pointed black beak
  • Short, stiff tail with small white shafts near outer edges
  • Chestnut brown undertail coverts
  • Often descends trees headfirst
  • Size: 13-15 cm (5-6")
  • Weight: 18-30 g (0.6-1.1 oz)

 

Identifying Traits (female):

  • Short, stocky body
  • Pale grey above, white below
  • Grey cap and collar
  • Slender, pointed black beak
  • Short, stiff tail with small white shafts near outer edges
  • Often descends trees headfirst
 
Adult male  
 

Voice: The nuthatch’s call is a nasal, almost wheezy yank or yank-yank.  Its song is a rapid staccato of nasal, whistled notes of uniform pitch: whi, whi, whi, whi, whi.

Habitat: The white-breasted nuthatch is usually found in forests, but can live anywhere where there is sufficient tree cover, including woodlots, groves, and suburban backyards.

Range: The white-breasted nuthatch is a year-round resident throughout the United States, as far south as Georgia and Alabama.

Interesting Facts: Nuthatches occasionally join with chickadees and titmice in large mixed foraging flocks.  It is believed that the birds benefit from the increased vigilance against attacks from predators.

   
 

 

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