Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Red-breasted Nuthatches

These are cool birds. They're frequent visitors to my house, especially in winter when they hang around my feeders with black-capped chickadees and Downy woodpeckers. They're tiny birds, only about 4-inches in size. They're fun to watch because they climb down tree trunks headfirst. Even when they land on my canister feeder, they're usually upside down. They build their nests in tree cavities using grass, bark strips, and pine needles. They line the nest with fur, feathers, fine grass, and shredded bark. Another unique fact is that they line the entrance to their nest with pine resin to keep out predators. The males apply it to the outside and the females put the sap on the inside. They avoid the sap by diving directly into the hole. Another unique fact is that they are the only North American nuthatch with an eyestripe on their head. When they visit my feeder, they only stop long enough to pick up a seed and fly away. They take it to a tree where they stick the seed into the bark and open it. Black-capped chickadees must do the same thing because they only stop at the feeder long enough to grab a seed and fly off. Dark-eyed juncos are another winter visitor, but they like to sit in the feeder and eat. I've just started seeing them again and yesterday I watched one fat little junco eat for the longest time. The chickadees and nuthatches zoomed back and forth like it was Grand Central Station, but the little junco just sat there enjoying her meal. We recently got another foot of snow, so my bird feeders have been really active lately. Even the woodpeckers are eating the seeds, rather than just tossing them onto the ground. If you know me, you know I have a thing for bird feeders.

I live in the mountains, so we get a lot of wildlife here. We've seen all sorts of birds, from little house finches all the way to bald eagles flying overhead. We also have squirrels, black bears, deer, moose, coyotes, wolves, and so forth. We've heard grizzlies have been known to frequent the area when food supplies are low, but we haven't seen any since living here. The same goes for mountain lions. Right now it's the winter birds and squirrels making their appearance the most. Once the snow melts and the bears come out, I'll have to start putting my bird feeders inside again, since the bears have been known to come right up to the house. Then again, I don't know what's worse -- the bears or the dogs that run around the neighborhood. I might have to keep feeding the bears just to keep the darn dogs out of the yard.

So -- what type of birds visit your house?


  1. We have lots of birds that we keep fed and watered. This year we've had an abundance of robins and cedar waxwings visiting. They usually only hang around for a day or two, but this year...three weeks! Another winter guest is the roufus-sided towhe.

    Year round birds include, cardinals, mockingbirds, 2 kinds bluejays, wrens, sparrows, titmice, chickadees, 3 kinds of doves, 2 kinds of woodpeckers, thrashers, and finches. I'm sure there are other's I've forgotten, hope they will forgive me.

  2. Don't think I'd want to see black bears in my backyard-YIKES!

    I see most of my wildlife just watching my kids - no, really, out on the boat we see Bald Eagles, Hawks, and other amazing birds.

  3. If you had asked this a few weeks ago, I couldn't have told you. However, my oldest son has gotten very into birdwatching over the last year and has joined a school birding club. Now he points out birds everywhere.

    Turkey vultures and seagulls are the most common around our house. Yesterday he pointed out two mourning doves and a red-tailed hawk. Osprey are prtty common too.

    I'm going to have to show him this post this weekend :)

  4. I love birdwatching! Besides hummingbirds, my favorites that I see in my yard are the tiny yellow birds - goldfinches, yellowthroats, and Wilson's warblers. We live near a river so we see egrets, herons, coots, ducks, hawks, turkey vultures...the ones that drive everyone crazy are the swallows - they come back every year and build nests under the eaves throughout the neighborhood.

  5. Beautiful picture! I love nuthatches, we have them too. We have chickadees now as well. Cardinals are always a pretty sight, too. I am looking forward to seeing a robin, because then I know spring will be coming!

  6. I dreamed about eagles last night. Weird.

    We get lots of different birds. My father in law knows all their names since he lives next to a lake and is constantly birdwatching. I think I'll put birds in my next novel so that I can do research. :)

  7. We don't get alot of birds here - we are in a subdivision so our feeder mainly gets chickadees and crackles (crows).

    My parents who also live in a subdivision but with bigger yards gets lots though. Blue Jays, Cardinals, chickadees, crows, seagulls, and doves. My dad made a lovely dove house and it is full every year at breeding times.

    We don't get a lot of wildlife here - racoons, squirrels and last week I saw my first mole! (I didn't know what it was!) lol Vince had to equate it to the kids program 'The Mole Sisters' for me to figure it out!

  8. We get a lot of woodpeckers...and hummingbirds...I much rather see the hummingbirds...

  9. We have some pretty birds, not sure what some of them are. There are also turtle doves and mourning doves. I love to listen to them

    I can't believe you're still getting snow ~ crazy!


  10. Your home sounds lovely. My mom lives in the Green Mountains in Vermont and all the wildlife is amazing. You're very lucky.

    We don't get much of that in LA.

    But I do get lots of humming birds. They love the flowers on my deck. They're citified and don't hesitate to dive bomb around my head.

  11. Mostly house sparrows, with some thrushes and warblers thrown in. There are some red-throated and yellow-throated birds, but I'm unsure of their lineage.

    There's a pair of wild doves that I've seen hanging around here since we moved here. I hear them every morning - they remind me of my summers in Hawaii as a kid, because that was the first time I'd ever heard wild doves coo.

    Recently, the girls & I saw some sort of raptor swoop through our backyard. We see those out here occasionally and they're always cool to watch.


  12. My name is Brett. I am Capt. Hook's 11 year old son.

    We have 3 red-bellied woodpeckers living near our house that come to my feeder. Since we live in a town, it's pretty rare to see them. We also have mourning doves, dark-eyed juncos, cardinals, blue jays, a red-tailed hawk, house sparrows, Carolina wrens, Carolina chickadees, white-throated sparrows and goldfinches.

    The place where I see a lot of neat birds is at my Grammie's house in the woods in Vermont and at my birding teacher's house. They both have tons of feeders out.