Monday, August 20, 2018

White-breasted Nuthatch at Kit Carson Park

The nuthatch is Marlene's favorite feeder bird, though we don't have these cute little birds in our present neighborhood. And we don't have any place for seed feeders in our current gravel-manicured yard, with the mess husks and spilled seeds bring.

In Oregon we had both Red-breasted and White-breasted Nuthatches come to our feeder. And we saw Pygmy Nuthatches when we went into the pine mountains. Here in San Diego White-breasted are rather uncommon in the lowland oak and riparian sycamores (as this bird). They are more common in the mountains. Red-breasted Nuthatches reach their southern limit in the mountains here and are somewhat hard-to-find. And Pygmy Nuthatches are resident in some of the pine mountains here (oddly quite rare at Palomar Mountain).

White-breasted Nuthatch
White-breasted Nuthatch. Kit Carson Park, Escondido, California. August 3, 2018.
When visiting a feeder, nuthatches crawl head-first down to feeder level, fly in, and nab a sunflower seed. Then they fly up to a branch to hammer it open with its chisel bill. Unlike sparrows and finches, nuthatches (and chickadees) cannot chew. So they don't stay on the feeder eating away like feathered pigs. They hold the seed in their feet and pound and pry it open to get the meat. Sometimes they will wedge the seed in the bark to hold it while they work on getting it open. Away from the bird feeder their main foods are weevils, ants, and beetles they glean from the branches and tree trunks.

They are a little hard to get photos of, as they are cautious and crawl around to the back side of the tree when you try to photograph them. Plus, they are always on the move, crawling and hopping around, up, over, and down, the tree. I needed the 10 frames per second shot rate to grab this particular photo of a series.

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