White-breasted nuthatches are small, energetic birds native to much of North America. We love watching them at our feeders. They are often found in deciduous or mixed forests, where they forage for insects and seeds on the trunks and branches of trees. These birds are easily recognizable by their distinctive appearance, with a white breast, blue-gray back, and black cap on their head. They are also known for their acrobatic movements, as they are able to climb up, down, and upside-down on tree trunks and branches with ease.
One of the most distinctive behaviors of white-breasted nuthatches is their habit of "anointing" objects with a sticky, foul-smelling substance produced by glands on their chest. Scientists believe that this behavior may serve a variety of purposes, including deterring predators, marking territory, or possibly even as a form of insect control.
White-breasted nuthatches are vocal birds, with a variety of calls and songs that are often heard in their forest habitats. They are also common visitors to bird feeders, where they can often be attracted with a variety of seeds, including sunflower, safflower, and peanuts. Ours sound nasaly and make a short "wonk wonk wonk" call most often.
In addition to their role in controlling insect populations and adding to the beauty of our natural areas, white-breasted nuthatches are also important indicators of the health of forest ecosystems. Their populations can be affected by a variety of factors, including habitat loss and degradation, climate change, and the use of pesticides. As a result, the conservation and protection of these birds and their habitats is important for the health of our natural world. We love having them as a member of our forest community not only for their pleasing presence at the feeders but also because they eat insects that can eat our trees.