White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis)

About the Bird

Seen/Heard at
Decorah, Decorah North

Diet
White-breasted Nuthatches forage in trees and foliage. Their dietary flexibility and foraging skills help them cope with the area’s changing seasons and food availability. When snow and ice cover the ground they eat mostly seeds and nuts, including acorns, hawthorn, sunflower seeds, and corn. During the summer their diet consists mostly of insects, including larvae, beetles, tree hoppers, scale insects, ants, caterpillars, and stinkbugs. Nuthatches will also visit birdfeeders for sunflower seeds, peanuts, suet, and peanut butter, and scavenge carcasses for suet. We sometimes see them searching for bits of protein in our nests!

Nesting
White-breasted Nutchatches breed from mid-May through early October. Females build nests in existing tree cavities. They line the cavity with fur bark and lumps of dirt before building a nest cup of grass, shredded bark, feathers, and other soft material. They lay five to nine whitish speckled eggs per clutch and produce one brood per year. Female white-breasted nuthatches incubate eggs for 13-14 days and young stay in the nest 13 to 26 days before fledging. Both parents feed young. To learn more, visit Cornell’s website.

How do nuthatches make it through the winter? You can learn more about that here: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/four-nuthatches-four-ways-to-make-it-through-a-cold-winter/.

Citations
Bird Range Maps of North America
Ridgely, R.S., T.F. Allnutt, T. Brooks, D.K. McNicol, D.W. Mehlman, B.E. Young, and J.R. Zook. 2003.
Digital Distribution Maps of the Birds of the Western Hemisphere, version 1.0. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia, USA. Data provided by NatureServe in collaboration with Robert Ridgely, James Zook, The Nature Conservancy – Migratory Bird Program, Conservation International – CABS, World Wildlife Fund – US, and Environment Canada – WILDSPACE.
Web Link: http://bit.ly/2ynPQ5I
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology Birds of North America: https://birdsna.org/Species-Account/bna/species/whbnut/introduction


General Description
White-breasted Nuthatches have black hoods, white faces, slate-blue backs, white underparts and dark eyes. Their lower bellies and area around their vents may be rusty orange.

Migration
White-breasted Nuthatches can be found in the Decorah area year-round. Most White-breasted Nuthatches do not migrate.

Measurements
Length: 5.1-5.5 in/13-14 cm
Wingspan: 7.9-10.6 in/20-27 cm
Weight: 0.6-1.1 oz/18-30 g

Wing Design
Elliptical. Optimized for bursts of fast, tightly controlled flight. Excellent at taking off quickly, maneuvering through branches, and avoiding predators.

Range Map

Range Map