Sunday, March 23, 2014

At The Feeders: Brown-headed Nuthatch (Sitta pusilla)

March 23rd, 2014. We installed a tube feeders (one with mixed seed and one with sunflower seed), a platform feeder and two log feeders in mid-December, 2013.

We saw the first Brown-headed Nuthatch (Sitta pusalla) on January 22nd this year and feeds only at the tube feeder filled only with sunflower seeds. It may have been coming earlier but usually doesn’t spend much time at the feeder unless there are few birds at that feeder. I’ve read reports of these nuthatches staying at a feeder unless they have to leave but ‘ours’ are quite shy and leave at the slightest disturbance.
It’s a small bird (3.9 to4.3 inches), small compared with the White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis) which is 5.1 to 5.5 inches long. 

Perched at the feeder. 

Fetching a seed. 

Seed in beak, deciding whether to eat in or leave. 

Perched on a nearby branch – a rare sight. I only saw a nuthatch perched on a branch near the feeders on one occasion. They usually grab a sunflower seed ‘to go’ but will ‘eat in’ if it’s quiet. A favorite spot to hull their seed is in the crook of a branch on a nearby pine tree.

We saw at least two Brown-headed Nuthatches this year. They are resident in this area and their distribution is limited to the Southeastern U.S. 

Identification resource:

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