White-breasted Nuthatch – Song | Range | Habitat | Diet | Nest | Facts

White-breasted Nuthatch

The white-breasted nuthatch, scientific name Sitta carolinensis is a small songbird of the nuthatch family frequent throughout a lot of temperate North America. It is stocky, with a big head, brief tail, highly effective bill, and robust feet. In this article, I am going to talk about White-breasted Nuthatch song, range, habitat, diet, nest, sounds, facts, vs chickadee, eggs, etc.

White-breasted Nuthatch profile

It has a black cap, white face, chest, and flanks, blue-gray upperparts, and a chestnut decrease stomach. Its 9 subspecies differ primarily within the coloration of the body plumage.

A standard feeder bird with clean black, grey, and white markings, White-breasted Nuthatches are energetic, agile little birds with an urge for food for bugs and enormous, meaty seeds.

They get their frequent name from their behavior of jamming massive nuts and acorns into tree bark, then whacking them with their sharp bill to “hatch” out the seed from the within.

White-breasted Nuthatches could also be small however their voices are loud, and infrequently their insistent nasal yammering will lead you right to them.

Like different nuthatches, the white-breasted nuthatch forages for bugs on trunks and branches and is ready to transfer head-first down bushes. Seeds type a considerable part of its winter food regimen, as do acorns and hickory nuts saved within the fall.

Old-growth woodland is most popular for breeding. The nest is in a gap in a tree, and the breeding pair could smear bugs across the entrance as a deterrent to squirrels.

Predators embody hawks, owls, and snakes. Forest clearance could result in native habitat loss, however, there aren’t any main conservation issues over most of its range.

White-breasted Nuthatch Geographical variation

The white-breasted nuthatch has 9 subspecies, though the variations are small and alter progressively throughout the range. The subspecies are generally handled as three teams based mostly on shut similarities in morphology, habitat utilization, and vocalizations.

These teams cowl eastern North America, the Great Basin, and central Mexico, and the Pacific coastal areas. The subspecies of the western inside have the darkest upperparts, and eastern S. c. carolinensis has the palest back.

The eastern type additionally has a thicker bill and broader darkish cap stripe than the inside and Pacific races. The calls of the three teams differ, as described above.

The Great Basin and Eastern types have been noticed in secondary contact on the Great Plains, the place they don’t appear to combine.

White-breasted Nuthatch Description

Like different members of its genus, the white-breasted nuthatch has a big head, brief tail, brief wings, a robust bill, and robust toes; it’s 13–14 cm (5.1–5.5 in) long, with a wingspan of 20–27 cm (7.9–10.6 in) and a weight of 18–30 g (0.63–1.06 oz).

The grownup male of the nominate subspecies, S. c. carolinensis, has pale blue-gray upperparts, a shiny black cap (crown of the pinnacle), and a black band on the higher back.

The wing coverts and flight feathers are very darkish grey with paler fringes, and the closed wing is pale grey and black, with a skinny white wing bar.

The face and the underparts are white. The outer tail feathers are black with broad diagonal white bands throughout the outer three feathers, a function readily seen in flight.

The feminine has, in common, a narrower black back band, barely duller upperparts, and buffer underparts than the male. Her cap could also be grey, however, many females have black caps and can’t be reliably distinguished from the male within the area.

In the northeastern United States, a minimum of 10% of females have black caps, however, the proportion rises to 40–80% within the Rocky Mountains, Mexico, and the southeastern U.S. Juveniles are just like the grownup, however duller plumaged.

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Color Pattern

White-breasted Nuthatches are gray-blue on the back, with a frosty white face and underparts. The black or grey cap and neck body the face and make it appear to be this bird is carrying a hood. The decrease stomach and underneath the tail is sometimes chestnut.

White-breasted Nuthatch Distribution and habitat

The breeding habitat of the white-breasted nuthatch is woodland throughout North America, from southern Canada to northern Florida and southern Mexico.

In the eastern part of its range, its most popular habitat is old-growth open deciduous or blended forest, together with orchards, parks, suburban gardens, and cemeteries; it’s discovered primarily within the lowlands, though it breeds at 1,675 m (5,495 ft) altitude in Tennessee.

In the west and Mexico, this nuthatch is present in open montane pine-oak woodlands, and nesting happens at as much as 3,200 m (10,500 ft) altitude in Nevada, California, and Mexico.

Pinyon-juniper and riverside woodlands could also be used domestically in the place out there. The white-breasted nuthatch is the one North American nuthatch normally present in deciduous bushes; red-breasted, pygmy and brown-headed nuthatches choose pines.

White-breasted Nuthatch Behavior

White-breasted Nuthatches are agile birds that creep alongside trunks and enormous branches, probing into bark furrows with their straight, pointed payments.

Like different nuthatches, they usually flip sideways and the other way up on vertical surfaces as they forage. They don’t lean towards their tails the best way woodpeckers do.

White-breasted Nuthatch Feeding

The white-breasted nuthatch forages alongside tree trunks and branches in an identical technique to woodpeckers and treecreepers however doesn’t use its tail for extra assist, as a substitute of progressing in jerky hops utilizing its sturdy legs and toes.

All nuthatches are distinctive when searching for meals as a result of they’re able to descend tree trunks head-first and may grasp upside-down beneath twigs and branches.

This nuthatch is omnivorous, consuming bugs and seeds. It locations massive meals objects akin to acorns or hickory nuts in crevices in tree trunks, after which hammers them open with its sturdy beak; surplus seeds are cached underneath unfastened bark or crevices of bushes.

The food regimen in winter could also be practically 70% seeds, however, in summer it’s primarily bugged.

The bugs consumed by the white-breasted nuthatch embody caterpillars, ants, and pest species akin to pine weevils, oyster shell,s, and different scale bugs, and leaping plant lice.

This bird will often feed on the ground and readily visits feeding stations for nuts, suet, and sunflower seeds, the final of which it usually takes away to store. The white-breasted nuthatch was additionally noticed visiting raccoon latrines in an effort to discover seeds.

The white-breasted nuthatch usually travels with small blended flocks in winter. These flocks are led by titmice and chickadees, with nuthatches and downy woodpeckers as frequent attendant species.

Participants in such flocks are thought to profit when it comes to foraging and predator avoidance. It is probably going that the attendant species additionally entry the information carried within the chickadees’ calls and cut back their very own degree of vigilance accordingly.


The tune is a nasal collection of notes on the identical tone: uhh-uhh-uhh-uhh. Birders usually find this species by the pounding sound of its bill hacking open a seed towards a tree trunk or department.

White-breasted Nuthatch Breeding

The white-breasted nuthatch is monogamous, and pairs type following a courtship wherein the male bows to the feminine, spreading his tail and drooping his wings whereas swaying back and forth; he additionally feeds her morsels of meals.

The pair set up a territory of 0.1–0.15 km2 (25–37 acres) in woodland, and as much as 0.2 km2 (49 acres) in semi-wooded habitats, after which stay collectively year-round till one partner dies or disappears. The nest cavity is normally a natural gap in a decaying tree, generally an old woodpecker nest.

The nest gap is normally 3–12 m (9.8–39.four ft) excessive in a tree and is lined with fur, tremendous grass, and shredded bark. The clutch is 5 to 9 eggs that are creamy-white, speckled with reddish-brown, and common 19 mm × 14 mm (0.75 in × 0.55 in) in size.

The eggs are incubated by the feminine for 13 to 14 days old to hatching, and the altricial chicks fledge in an additional 18 to 26 days. Both adults feed the chicks within the nest and for about two weeks after fledging, and the male additionally feeds the feminine whereas she is incubating.

Once unbiased, juveniles go away from the adults’ territory and both set up their very own territory or turn into “floaters”, unpaired birds without territories.

It might be these floaters that are primarily concerned with the irregular dispersals of this species.

This species of nuthatch roosts in tree holes or behind unfastened bark when not breeding and has the bizarre behavior of eradicating its feces from the roost site within the morning. It normally roosts alone besides in a very chilly climate, when as many as 29 birds have been recorded collectively.


Predators of grownup nuthatches embody owls and diurnal birds of prey (akin to sharp-shinned and Cooper’s hawks), and nestlings and eggs are eaten by woodpeckers, small squirrels, and climbing snakes such because the western rat snake.

The white-breasted nuthatch responds to predators close to the nest by flicking its wings whereas making hn-hn calls. When a bird leaves the nest gap, it wipes across the entrance with a chunk of fur or vegetation; this makes it tougher for a predator to search out the nest utilizing its sense of scent.

The nuthatch can also smear blister beetles across the entrance to its nest, and it has been prompt that the disagreeable scent from the crushed bugs deters squirrels, its chief competitor for natural tree cavities.

The estimated common lifespan of this nuthatch is 2 years, however, the report is twelve years and 9 months.


Look for White-breasted Nuthatches alongside the principle branches of huge deciduous bushes. They’ll seemingly be shifting shortly at odd angles to the vertical.

In winter you will discover them in small flocks of chickadees and titmice; should you see one in a flock preserve your eyes out, as there’s a great likelihood the bird’s mate is within the flock as nicely.

Other Recommended Reading

White-breasted Nuthatch Facts

  1. The White-breasted Nuthatch is generally territorial all through the year, with pairs staying collectively. The male has to spend more time searching for predators when he’s alone than whereas he’s along with his mate. That’s the sample for many birds and one motive why birds spend a lot of time in flocks. But the feminine nuthatch has to place up with the male pushing her except for foraging websites, so she spends more time trying round (for him) when he’s round than when she is alone.
  2. In winter, White-breasted Nuthatches be a part of foraging flocks led by chickadees or titmice, maybe partly as a result of it makes meals simpler to search out and partly as a result of more birds can preserve a watch out for predators. One research discovered that when titmice have been faraway from a flock, nuthatches have been warier and fewer keen to go to uncovered bird feeders.
  3. If you see a White-breasted Nuthatch making numerous fast journeys to and out of your feeder – too many for it to be consuming all of them – it might be storing the seeds for later within the winter, by wedging them into furrows within the bark of close by bushes.
  4. The oldest recognized White-breasted Nuthatch was a minimum of 9 years, 9 months old when it was present in Colorado. Learn more about Plum-headed parakeet.

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