“Yenk, yenk, yenk,” the nuthatches call to each other. I’m so happy they’re here working hard to rid my yard of a lot of insects and arthropods, especially in the warmer months when bugs are active.
When cold weather makes bugs a rare find, the nuthatches eat conifer seeds and bits of food (seeds) they cached earlier in the year. Smart of them to plan ahead. Of course a birdfeeder makes life a lot easier for them. They prefer the bigger seeds like sunflowers. They jam the seeds into a crack in the wood and hammer at them with their beak to open them.
They’re very agile and think nothing of hanging upside down to pick at food. My mother would never have allowed such antics at the table.
Nuthatches like to nest in holes in trees. Dead wood is especially attractive, most likely because it is easier to chip into. The nuthatch in the photo below worked for hours to chip a hole into the power pole on our property.
You can see that he had made quite a dent in the pole. But in the end, he decided against nesting there. Maybe it was too exposed. Probably didn’t have enough “street appeal.”
Here’s a unique anti-predator strategy. The female nuthatch brings resin from trees and smears it around the inside of the nest entrance, while the male spreads resin on the outside of the entrance. This is meant to keep other birds from sticking their noses in where they don’t belong. Who wants to get pitch on their face anyway? The nuthatches themselves just kind of “dive” through the opening without getting any on themselves. It helps that they know it’s there.
These friendly birds are used to people. This is why I was able to get so close to them for taking photos. In our local bird sanctuary, they even land on your shoulder or outstretched hand if you hold birdseed out for them. If you do feed the birds in winter, be sure to do your research and feed them approved birdseed. No Cheezies please.