Red-Breasted Nuthatch

Scientific Name: Sitta canadensis

Behavior: The Red-Breasted Nuthatch climbs down trees head first to get at the insects in crevices that woodpeckers and other insect-eating birds did not notice going up the trees. Red-Breasted Nuthatches start at the top of a tree and spiral down, and when they get to the bottom they fly up to the top of the next tree and do the same thing.

Diet: Red-Breasted Nuthatches eat mainly arthropods during the summer. They eat beetles, caterpillars, spiders, earwigs, and ants. In fall and winter Red-Breasted Nuthatches eat more seeds, including seeds that they have cached and seeds they eat from conifer trees. The diet of nestlings is almost entirely seeds.

Habitat/sound: The Red-Breasted Nuthatch’s call is a loud and nasal yank! yank! yank!, and can be heard mainly in conifer forest of spruce, pine, fir, western red cedar, hemlock, and larch, but can also be found in mixed coniferous-deciduous forests. Red-Breasted Nuthatches can be found in patches of smaller and more open woodlands, but prefer closed canopies and mature trees.

Nesting: Red-Breasted Nuthatches are cavity nesters. Both the male and the female excavate the nest hole. Usually Red-Breasted Nuthatches excavate a cavity in a rotten snag, often an aspen, but sometimes use nest boxes, old woodpecker holes, or natural cavities. Red- Breasted Nuthatches buildĀ  shallow cups of grass, strips of bark, and pine needles, and the nests are lined with fur, feathers, and shredded bark.

Description/field marks: The Red-Breasted Nuthatch has a brick red breast and underside. The wings, back, and tail are slate gray. The supercilium is white, a black line goes through the eye, and the crown is black. Red-Breasted Nuthatches are about 41/2 inches long, and have long, straight, wren like bills.

How to attract: To attract Red-Breasted Nuthatches, put out a seed or suet feeder. Red-Breasted Nuthatches will eat sunflower seeds or peanuts. They may come to a nesting box, but don’t get your hopes up.

red-breasted nuthatch at seed feeder

Red-Breasted Nuthatch

red-breasted nuthatch at seed feeder

Red-Breasted Nuthatch

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