White-breasted Nuthatch

Order: Passeriformes
Family: Sittidae
Genus: Sitta
Species: carolinensis
La. passer sparrow, small bird
La. forma form, kind, species
Gr. sitte woodpecker like bird
     mentioned by Aristotle
La. carolinensis for the Carolina

White-breasted Nuthatches, F.C.Hennessey, Birds of Western Canada, P.A.Taverner, 1926

Black crown, nape and bill. Wings and upper parts slate (blue-gray) with brown and black fringe.

Brown and black tail feathers with white bars.  White from the sides of its head and neck to its underside. Straight, rather long, partially black beak.

Usually a year around resident, it inhabits deciduous and mixed forests, groves and wooded towns in southern Canada, throughout most of continental United States and northern Mexico.

USGS White-breasted Nuthatch Map

Builds nests of leaves, feathers, hair and bark in natural or abandon woodpecker cavities or birdhouses. Nuthatches are also capable of excavating their own cavities.

Lays six to eight, more or less, sometimes as many as ten speckled eggs, which hatch after less than two weeks incubation and young leave the nest in about another two weeks.

They help keep tree diseases and insect carriers in balance. 

Tiny hook shaped claws enable nuthatches to flit dexterously on, underneath, up and down (mostly down) tree trunks and limbs eyeing crannies and crevices sometimes prying loose bark searching for insects, spiders, larva and eggs.

White-breasted Nuthatch, Louis Agassiz Fuertes, The Book of Birds, Henry Henshaw, 1921

Louis Agassiz Fuertes

They store nuts in the crevices of bark which are retrieved in winter when insects are fewer and the nuts are chopped apart (hence their name.) They also eat seeds, and berries.

In winter they are often seen foraging together or mixed with downy woodpeckers, other nuthatches, chickadees, and titmice and at seed and suet feeders.

Nestbox Plans for Chickadees, Nuthatches, Titmice and Downy Woodpeckers
White-breasted Nuthatch
Nest Box Plans

Sometimes they become accustomed enough to their hosts to take seeds from their hands.

The White-breasted Nuthatch Birdhouse (same as for the Red-breasted Nuthatch, Titmice and Chickadees) has a 4" by 4" floor, 9" inside ceiling, 1 1/4" diameter entrance hole located 7" above the floor, ventilation openings, and a hinged roof secured with shutter hooks.  Assemble with screws fit to pre-drilled pilot holes. 

Chickadees, titmice, wrens, downy woodpeckers and other nuthatches may use this box. 

White-breasted Nuthatch Song, F. Schuyler Mathews


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