By Grant Toellner
Everyone has heard the phrase “diving into something head first”, but not the Nuthatch!
It’s a way of life! The Nuthatch gets its name from its unusual habit of jamming large nuts into tree bark, then whacking at them with their sharp bill to “hatch” out the seed from the inside. The White-breasted Nuthatch is the largest of all species of Nuthatches in the United States and lives here year round. White-breasted Nuthatch’s have a black-capped head with a grayish-blue color on their back and a snowy while face and belly.
Even though their colors are distinguishable, a Nuthatch’s behavior is what sets them apart. Different from other birds, Nuthatches often turn sideways and upside-down on trees and limbs as they forage for food. Usually, Nuthatches will start at the top of trees and barrel their way head-first down while scavenging for food.
Nuthatches live and primarily can be found around mature woods and woodland edges, usually traveling with their mate. In winter, Nuthatches join foraging flocks led by Chickadees and Titmice as another security source to look out for potential predators. One recent study found that when Titmice were removed from the flock, Nuthatches were more wary and less willing to eat at exposed bird feeders.
A Nuthatch’s main food source is insects like beetles and ants, but they are also regulars at most folk’s backyards. You most likely will spot one snacking on a suet feeder, peanut feeder, or even a regular bird feeder because they also eat sunflower seeds. Some of the feeders I have had luck with and would recommend would be the Songbird Essentials Suet Log and any of the Songbird Essentials Spiral Peanut feeders. These make it easy for them to cling upside-down.