We’re Nuts for Nuthatches!

We’re Nuts for Nuthatches!

Elinor CohenJanuary 03, 2022

It’s time to discuss one of the most coveted birds of the Northern Hemisphere: The Nuthatch!

Compact yet vocal and equally bold, Nuthatches are some of the most beautiful wild birds found around the world.

Nuthatches are characterized by their short tails, long bills, and square 12-feathered tails. While most Nuthatches have grey or bluish hues on the top side of their bodies, their appearances vary from one species to another. There are about 28 known species of Nuthatches around the world, four of which are located in the United States.

  • The Red-Breasted Nuthatch
  • The White-Breasted Nuthatch
  • The Brown-Headed Nuthatch
  • The Pygmy Nuthatch

Nuthatches make their presence known with loud, simple songs, which helps them stand their ground even when larger starlings try to intimidate them.

It is a common misconception that the Nuthatch is a type of woodpecker. While Nuthatches slightly resemble small woodpeckers, they are in fact their own Sittidae, or family of passerine birds.

Passerine birds (also known as Passeriformes) are perching birds; they are distinguished by how their toes are arranged to facilitate perching on tree branches. Nuthatches are unique in their ability to walk up and down tree trunks, as well as hang upside down from tree limbs. This gives them their “upside-down birds” nickname.

Where do Nuthatches Live?

Nuthatches often breed in the temperate or montane woodlands of the Northern Hemisphere and in coniferous forests across North America. Most Nuthatches are non-migratory birds, with the exception of the North American, Red-Breasted Nuthatch, which migrates south to warmer regions in the winter.

Where do Nuthatches Get Their Name?

The Nuthatch gets its name from its preferred method of eating: hacking large food items. Nuthatches have a propensity for storing food in crevices or tree trunks and hacking it open with their strong bills. This leads us to the most important question: What do Nuthatches eat?

What do Nuthatches Eat?

These omnivorous wild birds eat the insects they find on tree bark, nuts, and seeds. They are also fans of peanuts and suet, making bird feeders and bird tables filled with this type of bird food prime for attracting them.

The Nuthatch has seen an uptick in prevalence in recent years, possibly due to the present-day use of bird feeders and bird tables. This may give enthusiasts more of an opportunity for Nuthatch sightings, especially if they live in favorable regions.

How to Attract Nuthatches

Birders looking to lure Nuthatches to their backyards should know that these beauties like nesting in holes and crevices. They often make nests in the holes or nooks and crannies of tree trunks, specifically oak trees.

Offering Nuthatches sunflower seeds (either in-shell or hulled) from hopper feeders or open platforms may help attract them. Another effective method to encourage Nuthatches to your backyard is to put peanut butter on a tree trunk or inside a specialized feeder! Careful though: you may attract some other unwanted visitors like squirrels.

Find all the nuts, seeds, specialty mixes, and more for the Nuthatches in your neighborhood right here at Valley Farms®!



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