Monday, January 4, 2010

Bird of the Week - XVl

This week's "Bird of the Week" is the White-breasted nuthatch. The "upside down" bird is a common bird of deciduous forests and wooded suburbs. The White-breasted Nuthatch can be seen hopping headfirst down the trunks of trees in search of insect food. It frequents bird feeders and takes sunflower seeds off to the side of a tree, where it wedges them into a crevice and hammers them open. In winter, the White-breasted Nuthatch joins foraging(feeding) flocks of Chickadees and Tufted titmice. This behavior helps protect the flock of birds from predators.

The White-breasted nuthatch is about 5 -6 inches long and has a mass of between 18 - 30 grams. It's upper parts are blue-gray with a bright white face and underparts. It's long bill is straight or slightly upcurved. The males and females look alike with the male having a black cap and the female having a grayer cap. They eat insects, seeds, and nuts.

A similar species is the Brown creeper.  Brown Creepers move along tree trunks like nuthatches, however, they most often travel up the tree trunk while the White-breasted nuthatch usually climbs headfirst down the trunk.  The Brown creeper is also brown instead of gray, with a much longer tail.

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