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White-breasted Nuthatch

Silhouette NuthatchesNuthatches
White-breasted NuthatchSitta carolinensis
  • ORDER: Passeriformes
  • FAMILY: Sittidae

Basic Description

A common feeder bird with clean black, gray, and white markings, White-breasted Nuthatches are active, agile little birds with an appetite for insects and large, meaty seeds. They get their common name from their habit of jamming large nuts and acorns into tree bark, then whacking them with their sharp bill to “hatch” out the seed from the inside. White-breasted Nuthatches may be small but their voices are loud, and often their insistent nasal yammering will lead you right to them.

More ID Info
image of range map for White-breasted Nuthatch
Range map provided by Birds of the World
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Find This Bird

Look for White-breasted Nuthatches along the main branches of large deciduous trees. They’ll likely be moving quickly at odd angles to the vertical. In winter you can find them in small flocks of chickadees and titmice; if you see one in a flock keep your eyes out, as there’s a good chance the bird’s mate is in the flock as well.

Other Names

  • Trepador Pechiblanco (Spanish)
  • Sittelle à poitrine blanche (French)

Backyard Tips

White-breasted Nuthatches are common feeder birds. You can attract them by offering large nuts such as sunflower and peanuts, and by putting out suet. Find out more about what this bird likes to eat and what feeder is best by using the Project FeederWatch Common Feeder Birds bird list.

Consider putting up a nest box to attract a breeding pair. Make sure you put it up well before breeding season. Attach a guard to keep predators from raiding eggs and young. Find out more about nest boxes on All About Birdhouses. You'll find plans for building a nest box of the appropriate size for White-breasted Nuthatch.

  • Cool Facts