White Breasted Nuthatch – Sitta carolinensis

These little gray birds make me tired just watching them! Back and forth, back and forth… From window ledge to the maple tree they fly to crack open the sunflower seeds I leave for them. I can’t tell the difference between the hims and hers. She is supposed to be a duller gray. Duller than our winter sky?

White-breasted Nuthatches (Sitta carolinensis) are lively, acrobatic little birds with an appetite for insects and large, meaty seeds like black oil sunflower. They get their name from their routine of jamming large nuts and acorns into tree bark, then whacking them with their sharp bill to “hatch” out the seed.


I’m getting a head rush!


These birds are nonmigratory, during the fall they store food for winter in crevices behind loose tree bark. Pairs seem to remain together year-round, for the species may be found together even in the dead of winter. Although they often join mixed flocks of chickadees, woodpeckers, and titmice for protection, they stay in their territories and protect it.


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“Hey Ilex! We’re getting low on seed out here!!”


© Ilex Farrell


14 thoughts on “White Breasted Nuthatch – Sitta carolinensis

  1. Nuthatches are pretty fun to watch. Earlier this year I had the pleasure to photograph a trio courting, it was really quite funny watching them do their little dances even upside down. I think it’s cool how you can often identify a nuthatch if not by their color immediately then by their behavior. Sure the more knowledgeable birdwatcher knows you can identify most if not all birds by distinct behaviors but Nuthatches can be found by even the most novice of us.

    Thanks for sharing your guys with us! Oh and if I was a bird I’d be so paranoid that someone saw me hid that seed in that one crack. I’d be a mess. 🙂


    • I’ve never seen so many different birds since I started working where I’m at now, which is near a large chain of lakes. This area has bald eagles, et all. I learned first how to attract them and started offering specific foods in specific feeders. Within about 2 years, I started getting all these cool guys! I’ve seen a few others like indigo buntings, waxwings and bluejays, however they are skittish and I’m too slow to capture them. They have been easier to ID since I’ve been getting to know the ‘styles’ of birds.

      Liked by 1 person

      • How satisfying. You’ve just reminded me how bad I need to get some more seed for my feeders. It’s easy to overlook how having different feeds can really increase the number and diversity of birds that visit you. I see Jays a lot around the area but they seem to be hit or miss when it comes to actually visiting as well. I feel like they ALWAYS come by when I’m out of seed, sheesh. I don’t see Waxwings around here much but I do love it when i do.

        Birds are so rewarding to photograph but not always so easy unless you’re planning on it and are all set up. That requires patience. Good luck on getting more bird shots!


      • There’s the problem – I don’t want to put bird feeders up in my garden as LM is sure to catch one 😦 You don’t want to know what happened to a baby pigeon being raised in the grape vines on my stoep by a persistent Mummy pigeon!! So, I’ll content myself with looking at your and other bird photos 🙂


        • Ah. Understand! I actually don’t feed any birds at my house, squirrels in the front yard, yes, but dogs don’t go there. Since I have to sit in front of a window all day (w/o dogs) I feed everything there! The only scary thing here is the hawks. . Thankfully they fly away with thier catch, I don’t have to see it dine. . Yuck!

          Liked by 1 person

          • Lovely to bird watch (when working!) I’ve done it myself. Got a bird book from the library and everything 🙂 hehe
            Wouldn’t want to see hawks catching little birds 😦 Funniest here was a resident Cape Eagle Owl, that tried to carry off a neighbour’s Chihuahua! 🙂


  2. Pingback: Red Breasted Nuthatch ~ Sitta canadensis | Midwestern Plants

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