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Thursday, November 15, 2007

Red-breasted Nuthatch, Irruptive Species

Another on-the-short-list-for-cutest-birds, species that could be called an "irruptive species" is the Red-breasted Nuthatch, photo above. This diminuitive nuthatch makes a very nasal, high-pitched "meep-meep" call (try saying "meep-meep" while holding your nose and speaking in a high voice), that we get a kick out of. Once you learn it, you'll know when it's in your yard.
Red-breasted Nuthatches breed in spruce and fir forests in the West and more northern regions. When winter food is scarce, they make "irruptions" out of their usual areas and can come down into all of the U.S., even as far south as Florida! This being a good year for "irruptive species," don't be surprised if it shows up at your sunflower feeder. We saw one at our feeders yesterday.

Photo © Lillian Stokes, 2007
P.S. If you don't want to try the holding your nose and making "meep-meep" noises thing, you can also hear what a Red-breasted Nuthatch sounds like by getting the Stokes Field Guide To Bird Songs CDs. You can even load them into your ipod, instructions here.


Anonymous said...

Have seen a couple of the Red-breasted Nuthatch at my feeders here in Southern NH this fall. I was not aware that they are an Irruptive species, not something I thought about. That explains why in years past I have not seen them very often. Love your Blog, it is always a treat to see your pictures, and I am always gaining new knowledge about the birds. Tell Phoebe that I enjoy her notations too. I adopted a Cairn terrier puppy this spring, so enjoy hearing about Phoebe's adventures.

Unknown said...

We had a Red-Breasted Nuthatch for most of September and October at our sunflower feeders in central New Jersey. Then didn't see it for almost two weeks. Today, I had one at a peanut feeder. Probably not the same one, but always a pleasure to see since they are somewhat rare around here.

Anonymous said...

The Red-Breasted Nuthatch is sure a sweet little bird.I think he looks like a little bandit. He turned up here in western NY a month ago and I held my breath that he would stay and he did. He especially likes our peanut feeder and of course sunflower seeds.I was happy to see his picture, thanks, Lillian. carol logan

Lillian Stokes said...

Glad you all are enjoying your Red-breasted Nuthatches, we sure are. Peanuts are another great way to get them to your feeders. Just like their relative, the White-breasted Nuthatch, they take the seed and wedge it in a tree crack and hack it open, or sometimes just store it.
And good luck with your Cairn Terrier puppy, they sure are cute. Puppies are such a joy. We are so enjoying our Phoebe, who is no longer a puppy at 15 months old, but still just as fun.

RuthieJ said...

I've had a couple of Red-Breasted nuthatches in my habitat here in SE MN since early October (the first time ever they've stayed more than a day or two). I'm really enjoying having these charming little birdies meep-meeping around my yard.

Susan said...

We had 2 red-breasted nuthatches at our feeders in North Carolina a couple of weeks ago - I think that's only the 2nd time I've ever seen them here.