The Nuthatches

posted in: Birds | 19

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
white breasted nuthatch

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.

red breasted nuthatch

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

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

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.

Alphabetical posts A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

My series on Alphabetical gardening

My personal alphabet.

19 Responses

  1. Margy

    Yesterday was a big bird day. We saw our first hummingbird (I went ahead and put out the feeders), four robins in my float garden and a pair of red-throated loons. I wonder if they are the same ones that have come to nest in our area for the last few years. – Margy

    • Linda aka Crafty Gardener

      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.

  2. Elaine

    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 !

    • Linda aka Crafty Gardener

      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!

  3. Daniel LaFrance

    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

  4. Myrtle

    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.

  5. Margie

    Now that I know what nuthatches look like, I’ll have to keep my eyes out for them!

  6. Betty Crow

    I have always been fascinated by these birds. It seems like it would be easier to climb the tree than climb down it. I haven’t see a red breasted nuthatch. That’s a new one for me. Nice shots!

  7. Linda

    Lovely shots! We have a variety of nuthatch here. They are fun birds to watch.

  8. ABC Wednesday

    wonderful photo’s …. they are gorgeous creatures , thank you for sharing

    Have a splendid, ♥-warming ABC-Wednes-day / -week
    ♫ M e l ☺ d y ♪ (ABC-W-team)

  9. Eileen

    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!

  10. Judy Biggerstaff

    Nice pics of the nuthatch. We have the white-breasted nuthatch in our area. I love seeing them at the feeders. They are such a cute bird and interesting to watch.

Comments are closed.