White-breasted Nuthatch—photos and links

Of the typical species of cavity nesters found in pinyon-juniper habitats such as ours, the White-breasted Nuthatch (WBNU) is the most widespread nationally.  Colorado is tied for a measly 11th place in WBNU populations,  with a meager 2.1% of WBNU population.  As noted in the full article, 3 subpopulations have rather different songs.  If you’ve spent any time in the East, you may recognize this “yenk” call.  Here are some recordings of WBNUs in Colorado.  First, the rapid yidi-yidi-yidi call (click here).  You can hear the 2-syllable song increasingly as February dissolves into March and March, into April.  (To my ear, it sounds like a slowed-down version of the call.  And notice that not all “songs” are beautiful.  A bird’s vocalizations are considered a “song” when they are used to attract a mate and defend a territory.  Other vocalizations—alarm sounds, noises to keep in touch with others in the area—are generally “calls.”)  And here’s the call of the western subspecies–the more drawn-out aaarn of the birds on the Pacific slope.

Since WBNUs spend so much time upside-down, you may notice another distinct field mark under their tails.  A rich chestnut color paints the lower belly and the undertail coverts (the feathers that surround the vent, under the tail).  You can see a good photo of that here.  It can be quite a surprise on such an otherwise black, white, and gray bird.

You can see some photos of nests, eggs, and nestlings in the nestboxes on our property here.

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