Red-breasted Nuthatch

Common Name: Red-breasted Nuthatch

Class:  Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Sittidae
Genus: Sitta
Species: Sitta canadensis

 

Taxonomy/Description

Of the two species of the Nuthatch family, Sittidae, found in Western New York, the Red-breasted Nuthatch and the White-breasted Nuthatch, the Red-breasted is distinguished from the White-breasted by its smaller size, black crown and eye line with a white supercilium, and red under parts. Although the White-breasted also has some rusty markings underneath it, the red is much more apparent in the Red-breasted.
 
Habitat/Diet


The Red-breasted Nuthatch is found year round in coniferous forests from the Pacific Coast of British Columbia to the Atlantic Coast of Nova Scotia, extending southward into the mountains of the American Southwest and the southern Appalachians in the East.
Insects and spiders are the main foods in the summer. During winter, Red-breasted Nuthatches eat many insects that they pry from food caches in bark crevices, but they also eat many seeds.

Behavior/Reproduction

The Red-breasted Nuthatch forges for food by probing crevices in tree bark. It climbs down tree trunks headfirst looking for food and will store food for later use under bark, in holes, and in ground.

This nuthatch builds its nests in cavities in trees and branches. The nest cavities filled with grasses, bark strips, and pine needles and lined with fur, feathers, fine grass, and shredded bark. Both the male and female members of the pair create the nest hole, and the female builds the nest inside. The female incubates the 5-6 laid eggs for 12 days. Both sexes tend to the altricial young which means they are immobile, helpless and blind. The young are able to leave the nest 12 days after hatching. 

Where to see them in WNY

Red-breasted Nuthatches are found in mature and diverse stands of coniferous forests, especially spruce, fir, larch, and cedar. They can also inhabit suburban habitat with sufficient conifers. Tifft Nature Preserve and the Swallow Hallow Trail at Iroquois during the winter months are good places to see the Red-breasted Nuthatch.

 

CAC is a program of the Institute for the Study of Human-Animal Relations at Canisius College in Buffalo, NY.