South Dakota
Birds and Birding
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White-breasted Nuthatch

Sitta carolinensis

Length: 5 - 6 inches Wingspan: 9 - 11 inches Seasonality: All Seasons
ID Keys: White face and neck, black head stripe and nape, blue-gray upperparts

White-breasted Nuthatch - Sitta carolinensis White-breasted Nuthatches are a very common visitor to home feeders, often forming mixed flocks with Brown Creepers, Chickadees, and Downy Woodpeckers during the winter months.  White-breasted Nuthatches are often seen foraging upside-down on tree trunks, as in the photo on the right.  They will take seeds and wedge them into crevices in a tree's bark, using it to hold the food item while they break it open with their beaks. 

Habitat: Forests, woodlots, groves, residential areas.

Diet: Mostly insects, also seeds.  Eats mostly insects during summer, supplementing with seeds in the winter. 

Behavior: White-breasted Nuthatches nest in cavities, and are usually quite territorial towards other nuthatches.  They will cache excess food in the cracks and crannies of tree bark for retrieval at a later date.

Nesting: May through July.  The nest of a White-breasted Nuthatch is built in a cavity in a tree, and is a cup built of grasses, strips of bark, twigs, and other material.  The female usually lays between 5 and 8 eggs, and she alone incubates them, with the male bringing her food during the incubation period.  When the eggs hatch, both parents help tend to the young and feed them.  The young fledge after about 3 weeks.

Breeding Map: Breeding bird survey map

Song: White-breasted Nuthatch Call

Migration: Not migratory, usually a permanent resident.

Similar Species: Red-breasted Nuthatch, Brown-headed Nuthatch

Conservation Status: The species is  very widespread and common, and faces no immanent threats to their populations.  Populations are thought to be increasing in many areas, especially as they've become very accustomed to taking advantage of feeders.  The IUCN lists the White-breasted Nuthatch as a species of "Least Concern".

Feeders: Will attend feeders for suet, assorted seeds, and peanuts.

Birdhouses: Will use nest boxes of appropriate size

Further Information: 1) USGS Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter, White-breasted Nuthatch

2) Cornell Lab of Ornithology - White-breasted Nuthatch

3) eNature.com: White-breasted Nuthatch

Photo Information: April 20th, 2005 - Brandon  - Terry Sohl

Additional Photos: Click on the image chips or text links below for additional, higher-resolution White-breasted Nuthatch photos.

 

Click on the map below for a higher-resolution view
White-breasted Nuthatch - Range Map
South Dakota Status: Common permanent resident throughout most of South Dakota, where appropriate habitat exists.