White-breasted Nuthatch
White-breasted Nuthatch
Sitta carolinensis

Family: Sittidae

The White-breasted Nuthatch has a short neck, broad shoulders, beady black eyes, blue gray above, and a glossy black cap and nape, clear white below, sides of face and neck are white, white patches on each side of the tail and the flanks are tawny. The bird measures 5-6" in length with a wingspread of 9 1/4-11 1/2". Sexes are alike.

This bird spends most of it's life in large trees in areas such as forests, farm woodlots, country towns and parks. White-breasted Nuthatches work their way down a tree trunk searching for grubs and insects in the bark crevices that other up-climbing tree foragers, such as the woodpecker, would miss. He can hang upside down, swinging from tiny branches. Sometimes you will find the White-breasted hopping about on the ground under trees in search of nuts and insects.


Sings every month of the year, but most frequently in the late winter and spring. With the arrival of Spring, you can hear the White-breasted Nuthatch begin to whistle pleasantly. The song is a series of 6 to 8 whistling notes each with a slightly rising inflection; wee-wee-wee-wee-wee-wee, a nasal call note; yank, yank, yank, yank.


Resident United States except where forests or woods are absent.


During courtship, the male bows before her, sings to her and brings her food. The nest is often 15-50 feet up in large trees of Oaks, Elm, Maple in a natural cavity or woodpecker's hole. Sometimes they will nest in a man-made bird box. Nest materials include shreds of bark, plant fibers, twigs, fur/hair and feathers. Throughout the months of April and May, as many as 8 eggs are laid. The eggs are white and spotted with browns, reds and gray. The eggs take 12 days to hatch and are incubated by both sexes, but usually the female. The first young bird flies about 14 days after hatching.

Natural Feeding Habits:

The diet is about 65% plant materials during winter and 100% animal foods during summer. Plant materials include beechnuts, acorns, hickory nuts, sunflower seeds, and corn which is eaten in the fall and winter. In the spring and summer, the White-breasted Nuthatch feeds on bugs, ants, flies, grasshoppers, moths, cankerworms, caterpillars of gypsy moth, forest and tent caterpillars, weevils, wood-borers, tree hoppers, aphids, scale insects.

Feeding Stations:

Comes to feeding stations for suet, wild bird seed mixture, peanuts and sunflower seeds.

Other Names:

Other names for the White-breasted Nuthatch are; Carolina Nuthatch, Common Nuthatch, Devil-down-head, Florida Nuthatch, Inyo Nuthatch, Rocky Mountain Nuthatch, Sapsucker, Slender-billed Nuthatch, Topsy-turvy-bird, Tree Mouse and Yank.

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