White Breasted Nuthatch Bird

by Carolyn A Marsh,
Illiana Birds
    A White-breasted Nuthatch showed up in the fall of 2016 at the Hammond Bird Sanctuary’s feeder station at the Hammond Marina and never left in Hammond Indiana. It appears to be a new sanctuary resident now as I saw it continuously through February 2017 taking sunflower seeds from feeders. This nuthatch is non-migratory and will normally stay in their territory year-round.

    It is very common in wooded areas and is always present at Eggers Woods Cook County Forest Preserve near the bi-state Wolf Lake in Chicago. It was rarely seen more than one day a year in the bird sanctuary, so this is a big deal. I hope that it will attract a mate and nest in an old tree cavity.

    The White-breasted Nuthatch creeps up, down and sideways along tree trunks and branches. Its summer diet is mainly insects and spiders, but in the winter nearly 70% seeds. It never eats its favorite sunflower seeds at the feeder like cardinals, but will take it to a tree and hit the shell with its strong beak to open it to get to the seed. Seeds are also stored behind tree bark. Black-capped Chickadees have the same feeding behavior and both are seen at the feeders.

     Other regular common winter birds at the feeders are Mourning Doves, Downy Woodpeckers, Dark-eyed Juncos, and White – throated Sparrows, American Tree Sparrows, Fox Sparrows, Northern Cardinals, House Finches, and American Goldfinches. Often a Cooper’s Hawk or Red-tailed Hawk will stalk the station and swoop down to try to pick off a bird for a meal. That is when the small birds take flight until the hawk leaves.

     I purposely supply only one day of various seeds around the station to limit the mob of non-migratory House Sparrows and squirrels from eating all of the seed. The feeding station is for educational purposes so that people will see the variety of species and how they interact.

     The Hammond Marina is located at 701 Casino Center Dr., Hammond, 219-659-7678, Email: marina@hammondmarina.com www.hammondmarina.com.


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