Sunday, May 9, 2010

Brown-headed Nuthatch (Sitta pusilla)

I’d been photographing buds of a Black Walnut tree by the edge of the lake (segment 4) and heard a soft, regularly spaced tap ……… tap……… tap……… tap……… tap. It wasn’t the tap! tap! tap! tap! tap! tap! tap! tap! tap! of a woodpecker. It was a soft tap ……… tap……… tap……… tap……… tap. I couldn’t see anything but it was coming from somewhere directly in front of me.

But the only things in front of me were a short tree stump much the worse for wear and the trunk of a tree recently felled onto the beach. The sound seemed to be coming from the tree stump but I couldn’t see anything. I edged my way over to the right, keeping my eye on the tree stump.

And there it was. A Brown-headed Nuthatch with its head in a hole in the tree stump. There must have been some tasty insects in that tree stump. The nuthatch was really focused on the stump. When it was startled, it would fly off but soon return to catch more insects. At one point another nuthatch flew over and landed on a branch a little way away but didn’t come to the tree stump. I wondered if this was a nesting pair.

The stump in question is in the center of the photo – right on the edge of the lake.

There it is … in the characteristic nuthatch upside-down pose. The insects were in the hole - the black spot - just below its head.

Hmmmm… I know there are more treats in here.

Need to keep an eye out in case someone wants me to share. Not in the mood to share. They’re mine…

…. all mine. Actually, this bird gave the impression of being quite gregarious.

The range of the Brown-headed Nuthatch is limited to the pine forests in the southeastern United States; from North Carolina to Florida and west to eastern Texas. They’re not endangered but, even so this was a nice sighting.

Click on an image to view a larger image

Identification resources:
- The Cornell Institute of Ornithology - All About Birds: Brown-headed Nuthatch (Sitta pusilla)


Suzi Smith said...

great to see!

JSK said...

Thanks. It really was a great encounter.
I heard it at the stump the next morning but haven't seen/heard it there since.
Heard the same/another one(?) further in the woods a week or so later.
Probably ate all the insects in the stump and moved on. Gotta eat!

Out walking the dog said...

Nice sequence of shots. COupled with your vivid description, I really get the sense of what the little guy was up to.

JSK said...

I really enjoyed this little guy. He seemed to have a nice, fun personality - if birds have personalities. He seemed to be enjoying life.