White-breasted Nuthatch Sitta Carolinensis
Sound (186 KB)
6 inches (15 cm)
• Black cap and nape
• White face, throat and breast
• Grayish-blue back
• Reddish brown splotches on rump and flanks
• Straight gray bill
• Black crown and nape
• White face and underparts
• Blue-gray upperparts
• Rusty undertail coverts
• Short tail
• Sexes similar but female duller
• Feeds by hopping along tree trunks and branches often hanging upside down
• Because of its unique feeding strategy, the White-breasted Nuthatch is most likely to confused with other nuthatches. Red-breasted Nuthatch has a black eyeline and reddish underparts. Brown-headed and Pygmy Nuthatches have brown caps and a white patch on the nape. Red-breasted, Pygmy and Brown-headed Nuthatches are mostly found in pines while the White-breasted prefers deciduous trees.
Deciduous and mixed forests, suburbs, farm woodlots, towns, oak and ponderosa pine in western portion of its range. Common and widespread. Usually seen moving down tree trunk head first. Relatively tame.
NESTING & FEEDING:
BREEDING: Deciduous (especially), mixed deciduous-coniferous forest, woodland, forest edge, occasionally coniferous forest; prefers mature stands with decaying large trees. 1? brood. Mating system is monogamous.
DISPLAYS: Courting male carries food to female, performs bowing and singing ritual with head feathers raised, tail spread.
NEST: In natural cavity or deserted woodpecker hole 10 to 60 feet above tground level; bed of soft bark shreds, hair, feathers. Female builds nest with some help from male.
EGGS: 5-8 eggs. White to pinkish-white, usually heavily marked with reddish-brown, especially at large end. 0.8" (19 mm).
CHICK DEVELOPMENT: Female incubates. Incubation takes 12 days. Development is altricial (immobile, downless, eyes closed, fed). Young leave the nest after 14 days. Both sexes tend young.
DIET: Insects, spiders; in winter takes many acorns, nuts. Young may be fed 100% animal food.
CONSERVATION: Winter resident. Rare cowbird host.
NOTES: Pairs maintain feeding territories throughout year. Within pairs, males always dominant over females, e.g., in gaining access to food. In winter, roost singly in cavity; occasionally join mixed foraging flocks with Brown Creepers, chickadees, Downy Woodpeckers.
Sitta carolinensis WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCH. Deciduous woods, pinyon-juniper, towns. From nw Washington, se British Columbia, c,se Alberta, sw,se Saskatchewan, s Manitoba e across s Canada to Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia, s to s,ec California, n Baja California and mts. at s tip of Baja Calif., s Nevada, c,se Arizona, s,ec New Mexico, w,nw Texas, w Oklahoma, Gulf Coast to n Florida; (absent from the Great Basin from w Oregon and s Idaho to ne Nevada and nw Utah). Mexican highlands in e Sonora, w Chihuahua, w,c Durango, e Sinaloa, e Nayarit, w Zacatecas, Jalisco, Colima, Michoacán, Guanajuato, México, Morelos, Hidalgo, Puebla, and n to e San Luis Potosí, nw Tamaulipas, sw Nuevo León to se,c,nw Coahuila, and s to c Oaxaca. Sierra Madre del Sur in s Guerrero and sw Oaxaca.