Thoughts, ideas, photos, and stories.


Nuthatches Again

I couldn’t resist trying for more photos again this morning when the nuthatches came back for breakfast.


Granola with sunflower seeds is on the menu today.


I might have to go have some of that myself.

I do make my own granola but so far I’ve been using store bought sunflower seeds. Looks like I’ll be buying them again this year unless I want to deprive the birds of their breakfast.


Help Yourself

This spring, a friend gave me some started sunflowers to plant in my garden. I had never had success with them, mainly because the wind often knocked them down as soon as they got more than a couple of feet tall.  This time I planted them by the fence and tied the young plants to it as they grew.

Now they are taller than I am and besides making me happy whenever I look at them, they are making the birds in my yard happy.

I had been feeling guilty about not refilling the feeder this summer, but I hadn’t wanted to attract hawks (as I’ve done other years) and inadvertently killing the very birds I wanted to feed. I decided I could always fill the feeders when the weather got cooler and food became scarce.

But the nuthatches had other ideas. They’re used to helping themselves and somehow they knew that the sunflower seeds were ready to eat.

I had a very hard time getting any pictures of them because they are so fast, but here are a couple of photos that are not as blurry as the 40+ others that I deleted.

You may have to search for the little guys. They blend right in with the greens and grays of the garden.

It gives me a headache just looking at them hanging onto the stems upside down. When was the last time you sat upside down to eat?

I guess the Captain will have to do without his toasted, salted sunflower seeds, unless he buys them in the store.


Red-breasted Nuthatch

“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.