Birds – Red-breasted Nuthatch

(Sitta canadensis)


Length—4 to 4.75 inches. One-third smaller than the English sparrow.

Male—Lead-colored above; brownish on wings and tail. Head, neck, and stripe passing through eye to shoulder, black. Frontlet, chin, and shoulders white; also a white stripe over eye, meeting on brow. Under parts light, rusty red. Tail feathers barred with white near end, and tipped with pale brown.

Female—Has crown of brownish black, and is lighter beneath than male.

Range—Northern parts of North America. Not often seen south of the most northerly States.

Migrations—November. April. Winter resident.

The brighter coloring of this tiny, hardy bird distinguishes it from the other and larger nuthatch, with whom it is usually seen, for the winter birds have a delightfully social manner, so that a colony of these Free masons is apt to contain not only both kinds of nuthatches and chickadees, but kinglets and brown creepers as well. It shares the family habit of walking about the trees, head downward, and running along the under side of limbs like a fly. By Thanksgiving Day the quank! quank! of the white-breasted species is answered by the tai-tai-tait! of the red-breasted cousin in the orchard, where the family party is celebrating with an elaborate menu of slugs, insects’ eggs, and oily seeds from the evergreen trees.

For many years this nuthatch, a more northern species than the white-breasted bird, was thought to be only a spring and autumn visitor, but latterly it is credited with habits like its congener’s in nearly every particular.