White-breasted nuthatches are permanent Decorah residents. 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!
Female white-breasted nuthatches 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 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. To learn more, visit Cornell’s website.