Ten Common Birds Of The GTA

DeRango Productions

White–breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis)


The White Breasted Nuthatch is a very unique bird with some interesting characteristics. For one, the White Breasted Nuthatch has the ability to go headfirst down a tree; you can see these birds maneuvering all over the place, in every possible direction. They are commonly known as the acrobats by your bird feeders. They also share a similar role as the Woodpeckers by cleaning insects from the tree trunks and larger limbs of trees. The Woodpeckers will move up the tree, and the White Breasted Nuthatches will move down the tree getting any leftover insect that might have been missed. This interesting little bird is in fact a small song bird, it’s a stocky bird with a large head, short tail and a powerful bill, and it has very strong feet. If you see an upside-down bird by your feeder, you have spotted the Nuthatch.

Keys To Identification


6 - 7 inches. (16 - 18 centimeters) in length (fully grown), and weigh about 18 - 30 grams (0.6 - 1 ounces). They have a wingspan of about 8 - 11 inches (20 - 28 Centimeters).


The White Breasted Nuthatch has a very long bill that is pretty much the same length as their actual head. These birds have black crowns on their heads, with white cheeks and white undersides. On their underside they also have a little bit of a reddish coloring towards the tail area. The coloring on their back is a bluish gray; their wings are a mixture of white, black and more bluish gray.

Males tend to be a little bit more colourful than the females
Females tend to be mostly gray overall
Juveniles resemble the female, and are obviously smaller in size

Sounds Like:

 http://diggles.webs.com/white-breasted nuthatch.mp3


The Males song is a vibrant series of notes that actually sound like the bird is saying "Hey-hey-hey-hey-hey" You can hear The White Breasted Nuthatch's Songs from midwinter through the spring. 



These wonderful birds are excellent at climbing up and down the sides of trees, and are easily identified by their habit of creeping up and down tree trunks. They explore this way, searching out insects hidden all throughout the trees, along the trunks and the limbs. The White Breasted Nuthatch can also be seen hopping around your lawn, not walking. They often hop around in search of food on the ground. Nuthatches do not migrate; they stick around all year and are territorial. As you can see from the pictures I have chosen, The White Breasted Nuthatches often turn sideways or even upside-down on pretty much anything - they are very agile birds. These birds typically hide food that they find by covering it with a piece of bark, moss or even snow.


The White Breasted Nuthatch prefers to live in deciduous woodlands, and mixed deciduous and coniferous forests. They seem to like older, more mature hardwood forests and oak trees. And Yes, you guessed it – White Breasted Nuthatches are common visitors to your backyard bird feeders!


White Breasted Nuthatches get their names from their habit of placing large seeds and nuts in crevices of trees and then prying them open with their bills. 'Nuthatches' also investigate crevices along trees trunks and the limbs of trees for seeds and insects. They store whatever they find in the loose bark, and save it for a bed time snack. For the most part this bird eats mainly insects, including larvae, beetle larvae (I’m pretty sure that’s what Gavan ate on one of our field trips), ants, caterpillars, moths and spiders too.  In your Greater Toronto Area backyard you can see them eating sunflower seeds, peanuts, and even peanut butter.

Similar birds and species:

When comparing birds that look similar, there is a few Nuthatches that are similar in shape and size. In Comparison you could look at the Red Breasted Nuthatch, its only difference in looks would be that is has a red breast, and not a white one. You could also compare the Brown Creeper, who will walk around like the White breasted Nuthatch, but is clearly all brown! And lastly you can also compare my Professor for his similar eating habits. Gavan is carnivorous and although he is completely different in shape and size, he does share a similar feeding habit as the White Breasted Nuthatch - they both enjoy eating beetle Larvae.  Below you can see a picture of the Red Breasted Nuthatch, The Brown Creeper, And Professor Gavan!

Range: (the geographical area where this species can be found)

White Breasted Nuthatches spend all of their time year round throughout Canada, the United States and even Central Mexico.

Interesting Facts:

The White Breasted Nuthatch exhibits a pretty weird, but interesting behaviour called bill sweeping. What it does is find a piece of fur, plant, or anything that it comes across and uses it to sweep around its nest! Maybe to clean it up and keep things tidy. Scientists believe the bird does this to remove its own scent to prevent predators from finding them!



Video Courtesy of  Erut55, 2007

Here is a very brief video of A White Breasted Nuthatch feeding on a bird feeder! It seems like he is full of energy!



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