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Red-breasted Nuthatch Invasion

Posted on Sep 5, 2016

Who turned the Red-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta canadensis) switch on? The most noticeable trend thus far in this autumn migration has been the appearance of Red-breasted Nuthatches all over the place in the Northeast. Birders have reported them at migratory hotspots, in yards where they are not resident, and even noticeable increases in abundance at locations where they are found year-round. While I have enjoyed hearing their nasal, honking calls and seeing them frantically dashing overhead from tree to tree, I was not able to adequately photograph any of these arrivals until this past weekend. They prefer to stick to foraging along branches and tree trunks, taking insects or tearing into pine cones to grab nuts like this bird.

Red-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta canadensis)-3740

While that was a lucky shot, the Nuthatch in the second photo provided me a chance to photograph it while pressing the pause button for a moment as it spent a minute calling but relaxing after a long breakfast following a tiring night of migration.

Red-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta canadensis)-3819

Will the new arrivals keep coming? How many birds will spend the full winter with us? Have you spotted some at your feeders? If not, or if you live further south, keep watching – more might be on the way for your place!

Scott Kruitbosch
Conservation & Outreach Coordinator