Red-breasted Nuthatch

photoprofile
Red-breasted Nuthatch
Red-breasted Nuthatch
Photo by: 
Paul Ruehle

Occassionally we get calls about a small nuthatch with a black eye stripe and reddish breast. Could this be the female? What she described was a Red-breasted Nuthatch. Not present every winter, red-breasteds will wander out of Canada and northern United States in years of poor pine seed production. Their slimmer bills work great for extracting seeds from pinecones while their larger, white-breasted cousin uses its heavier bill to crack seeds and nuts, thus the name Nuthatchs.

These tiny birds are extremely bold and will often let you get to within a few inches of them before they fly away. I have had one land on my pitcher of Nut & Berry as I carried to my feeders, fly down into the bottom, grab a sunflower heart, land on the rim on the way out and turn and look at me before exiting. In winters when we have them in the area, they are quite easy to attract with peanuts and sunflower kernels. 

By Mark McKellar

SUMMER 2015