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Red-breasted Nuthatch enjoying pine cones

Posted on Oct 29, 2014

On the same day that I posted about not seeing many Red-breasted Nuthatches this autumn I went out and immediately saw a Red-breasted Nuthatch. Such is life! I do not need to file a retraction in this case because my overall point remains valid. The species is a resident in many parts of New York and the Northeast but these tiny bundles of joy are found much more frequently in the fall and winter during irruption years where birds move south and often visit bird feeders for the duration of their stay.

There are always a number of Red-breasted Nuthatches that migrate to southern quarters. However, in 2014-2015, it is not a significant movement and will likely not be. This bird enjoyed feeding on pine cones while I craned my neck and camera up at it, going from branch to bark, taking a seed and flying to the tree trunk to eat it.

Red-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta canadensis) pine tree cone-0993

The Red-breasted Nuthatch often lives in an upside-down world

Red-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta canadensis) pine tree cone-0986

Looking for another seed…

Red-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta canadensis) pine tree cone-0987

…and pulling a seed out

Red-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta canadensis) pine seed tree bark-0997

See the seed? Looking for a spot to eat

Red-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta canadensis) pine seed tree bark-0998

Down it goes

Perhaps you will have a Red-breasted Nuthatch at your place this year after not seeing one for some time. That’s the beauty of birds – there is still a lot of luck involved. Even during massive irruptions folks without a given species at their feeders wonder why they have been left out but, generally, if you offer a diverse selection of food a diverse selection of birds will eventually come. For now many new arrivals this fall, especially Pine Siskins and Purple Finches, are eating from wild food sources like this. As the months pass and we enter winter the better chance we all have of hosting hungry guests for meals. Until then these are some tasty pine cones…

Scott Kruitbosch
Conservation & Outreach Coordinator