White-Breasted Nuthatch

Sitta carolinensis

The most common trait of the White-Breasted Nuthatch, is its ability to go headfirst down a tree trunk.

Woodpeckers and nuthatches share the role of gleaning insects from the trunks and larger limbs of trees.

Their styles may differ as woodpeckers will hop around the trunk on their way up and nuthatches move downward, getting whatever insect might have been missed.

By going upside down, they find the cracks and hiding places that woodpeckers and chickadees often miss.

This sleek non-migrating bird can be found through out much of the United states and extreme southern Canada.


The White-breasted Nuthatch is 5 to 6 inches in length.

These small birds have a dark crown and nape with a white face and a gray back.

Varying amounts of reddish brown on rump and flanks.

Sexes differ in color of crown and back. The female bird has a gray or dull black crown and nape.

White breasted nuthatch (Female)

Mating and Courtship:

Like their cousins the Red breasted nuthatch, they mate for life.

Nuthatches can begin their mating and courtship habits as early as January. The male bird will begin his song and in response the female may approach and remain still as she perches nearby.

After a while the two will go off and feed together for the day. At days end, each goes to a separate hole to roost for the night.

Nuthatches also engage in mate-feeding.

The male bird collects a morsel of food, flies to the female, and then places the food in her bill.

You will see this in late winter, especially if you feed birds.


The Nuthatches nest is a natural cavity in a broken limb or tree trunk or perhaps an old woodpecker hole. If the wood is soft enough they will excavate their own hole.

The nest is a mass of bark strips, hair and feathers. Located 15 to 50 feet above ground.

The White breasted nuthatch will also place pine pitch around the hole to deter certain insects and small predators.

Nuthatches are able to fly right in the hole without gumming up their feathers.

The female lays 3 to 10 eggs that are white, spotted with brown, red, and gray.

Incubation is done by both female and male for 12 days and the young will leave the nest about 14 days after hatching.

Feeding Habits:

More common at bird feeders and more widespread than its smaller Red-breasted nuthatch relative. The White-breasted nuthatch has a diet that consist of nuts, seeds, insects, and fruits.

Male White-Breasted Nuthatch

These birds often store (cache) food in the bark of trees for hard times.

The name comes from "Nuthatch," which referred to the bird's eating habits. Watch when it eats a sunflower seed or a nut. This bird will wedge it into a crevice and hack away it open it.

Through fall and winter this bird will travel with its close relatives the chickadees and titmice as they forage for food.

Offer sunflower seed, suet and peanut pieces in your bird feeders to attract the White-breasted Nuthatch to your yard.

you may notice they are slow to fly away when you approach your feeders or the birds.

With time and patience, these birds can be trained to feed from your hand.

Native Trees to Attract White-Breasted Nuthatch

Shrubs Offer Food and Protection

Build a Bird Garden

Nuthatches Love Peanuts

Choosing the Right Feeders

Offer Fresh Water

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