Red-breasted Nuthatch - Photo Copyright Ward Cameron 2003 - Click to view a larger image Red-breasted Nuthatch - Photo Copyright Ward Cameron 2003 - Click to view a larger image Red-breasted Nuthatch - Photo Copyright Ward Cameron 2003 - Click to view a larger image Red-breasted Nuthatch - Photo Copyright Ward Cameron 2003 - Click to view a larger image  
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Red-breasted Nuthatch
Sitta canadensis

Chickadees, Nuthatches and Creepers
Nuthatch Family (Sittidae)

Size: Length: 11.5-12 cm Wingspan: 20-22 cm

Description: The red-breasted nuthatch is a favourite visitor to backyard birdfeeders. It is a small bird with a gray upper surface and a rusty red breast, belly and sides. The head is black with a distinctive white streak running from the base of the dark beak, through the eye and continuing to the nape.

Perhaps one of the easiest ways to distinguish the nuthatches is by their habit of always working their way down the tree head first.

Similar Species: The white-breasted nuthatch has a similar habit if working from the top of the tree, down towards the base, but it looks quite different. The white-breasted nuthatch has a black crown, but lacks the distinctive white eye line of the red-breasted. Also, like the name implies, it also lacks the rusty red breast.

Range: This is a wide ranging bird, found across much of southern Canada, and most of the U.S. It is a year-round resident throughout the Canadian and American Rockies.

Habitat: Nuthatches are birds of coniferous and mixed wood forests, searching the bark for insects, insect eggs and larvae.

Diet: They feed upon a diverse diet of insects, insect eggs, larvae, and seeds. They pick behind the bark scales looking for these items, always foraging from the top of the tree towards the base. They are also very fond of sunflower seeds and suet, and will readily visit bird feeders.

Nesting: Nuthatches are a cavity nester, looking for an old woodpecker hole, or other opening. They may also excavate their own in some cases. They will also take advantage of nest boxes. Within the cavity, the female builds a small cup-shaped nest in which she lays 4-7 (rarely up to 9) light coloured eggs with moderate to significant spotting in purple or chestnut-red.

Incubation is by the female, with the male offering her food. The altricial and downy nestlings hatch after 13-15 days, and will be tended by both parents. The young fledge at 18 days, but will continue to be tended by the parents for another 3 weeks or so.

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All Material Ward Cameron 2005

 

 

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