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Nature Notebook – Nuthatches

The food resources up north must be scarce this year. Local yards have become a winter home for red-breasted nuthatches which normally hang out in the north. Fortunately for me a pair has been hanging out with the chickadees in my yard.

Watching their feeding behavior has given me a serious case of whiplash. The bird grabs a seed, flies to a tree, returns to the feeder, flies to a different tree, returns to the feeder, etc. At each tree stop, it caches the seed in a crevice in the bark. If the stop lasts a bit longer, the bird is probably hammering or prying open the seed or feasting on a bug it found in the bark.

The nuthatch is able to climb up or down a tree, upping its chances of finding a tasty treat hiding in the bark. It has a large hind toe and long, sharp claws on all the toes to grip the bark. It maintains its stability by placing one foot higher than the other as it climbs.  One foot acts as an anchor while the other pulls. Its stubby tail is also an asset because it stays out of the way.

If you’re looking to “cache” some birdseed to feed birds this winter, remember you can purchase birdseed, feeders, and houses to pick up curbside from Sarett’s online store. Visit