Project Chekov: Nuthatch

Today is a milestone of such for me. Not so much the ongoing record number of posts this month, but more on a personal level.  Today’s road run crested 10 miles which puts me 6 months ahead of schedule on the yearly training program.  This came at a cost of 7 pounds – must force myself to be more diligent on the hydration.  The Winter months are usually recovery time for me (the season can take a toll on the old body), however, this year I’m trying to run more outside during the Winter months.  Hoping this will help curtail some reoccurring  injuries that has plagued me late in the season.  Of course, this means that I had to buy additional sets of cold running suits/shoes  and as of late put up with 4 to 7 inches of snow mixed with solid layers of ice.  It does force me to keep my foot falls under my body which helps to curb any residual heal strikes.  We’ll see how this goes but for now definitely exciting.   To celebrate let’s spotlight another winged creature.

Today we are revisiting the White-Breasted Nuthatch.  This is definitely not a new bird to the blog but today’s shots are certainly a lot crispier than any of the other offerings on this bird to date.  It is actually embarrassing how bad the first set of pictures was (link here) and even the later shots while walking the park (link here) leaves a lot to be desired).  This is one of the reasons I started blogging in the first place – to allow me to track my progress in the field of photography.  Still thousands of miles to go on the journey but doubt anyone can argue there is some progress.  These Nuthatches are common in our area and a frequent visitor to our feeders – they really like those sunflower seeds.  They have a unique coloring that makes it fairly easy to identify, but one of their behaviors is a dead giveaway.

They have a tendency to walk DOWN tress and branches.  Pretty impressive they can keep control like that (and avoid those dreaded headrushes).  These Nuthatches are not too social at our feeders.  You will see one come and stage in a nearby branch, survey the situation, dart in, grab a seed and head back out into the trees to consume it.

Hit the jump to see some feeder shots

I think these feeder shots were taken on a rainy day which is why the birds look a little drab/matted.  Take note of the talons on these creatures – pretty easy to see how they can maintain grip on the tree bark.  The Cornell site finally broke the code as to why these agile birds were given the name Nuthatch.  “They get their common name from their habit of jamming large nuts and acorns into tree bark, then whacking them with their sharp bill to ‘hatch’ out the seed from the inside.”  This I have never witnessed personally – will have to pay closer attention.  Typically they are seen with the seed in their bill and simply banging it against a tree.

Cornell also mentioned they team up with Chickadees and Titmice during the Winter months to form a foraging flock.  This behavior is confirmed since those three birds are seen together frequently in those months.  New to the fact list was their pension to horde seeds in the Winter, hiding them in bark of nearby trees – ye of little faith – my feeders are full year round.

The following composition cracked me up.  Seems to be saying “Whoa, something just moved in there, anyone else see that… there, there was again.  Call one of those Woodpeckers over here and let’s get this intruder out of here”

Wait a minute, Wikipedia implies they are competitors to Woodpeckers, so switch that last statement to read Titmouse.  There also appears to be many variations of this bird – here in the Midwest, this is the version we see most often.

Also learned they eat insects as well (always a plus) but the abundance of sunflowers in the area must curtail some of that – why not go for the easy food.  To close out the details on this bird, they tend to be monogamous (take that you Mallards!) and do not migrate.  Guessing they did not enjoy the recent streak of subzero temps – assuming that goes for the  globull warmers as well.

That’s a wrap for the White-Breasted Nuthatch – sure helps when you have pictures where you can actually see the bird (hehehe).  Take it easy and see you soon – now time to go Trigger Point those tired legs.


3 comments on “Project Chekov: Nuthatch

  1. Ron

    Trigger Point your legs–what does that mean??

    I had heard of the Nuthatch, but didn’t know exactly what they look like. And now I know the full name is White-Breasted Nuthatch. Pretty clever about sticking nuts into trees before banging on them.

    Are you sure you didn’t have ants in your birdfeeder when you took the shot of the Nuthatch looking at something?

    Thanks for the pics,


  2. admin

    Trigger Point… every runner know what that is!

    You can always tell a Nuthatch when you see them since they are generally pointed DOWN the tree. Again, another common bird around our parts .. do you live in Chicago or some similar concrete jungle because there seems to be a lot of birds you haven’t encountered. Next time you are down here I’ll help fill up your bird list – although we are expecting snomageddon down here (sorry, waaayyyy down here South of I80) tonight so might be digging out until April.

  3. Ron

    No, I don’t live anywhere near any place called Chicago. I’ve heard tell of it by drifters through these parts, but most people around here think it’s a myth. An urban myth (“Hi-o-o-o-o!”).

    You should go out in the snowmageddon and look for Snowy Owls!! (not “snowy owls”).


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