The Little Nuthatch

Top Photo: Brown-headed nuthatch pecks away at willow trunk.

Brown-headed nuthatches are the smallest of the eastern nuthatches. In the southeast, where there are pines, there are likely these tiny, frenetic birds foraging among the outer branches and cones of the trees.

White-breasted nuthatches prefer more deciduous forest habitat. Though you may see the larger (by an inch and more) white-breasted nuthatch in the same pine habitat as brown-headed nuthatches, you won’t see brown-headed nuthatches far from stands of pines.

Brown-headed nuthatch works on future nest cavity.

Their calls are different from the white-breasted nuthatches too. White-breasted nuthatches most often vocalize with a repeated, nasal whan, whan, whan or ahn, ahn, ahn sometimes repeated half-a-dozen times. Brown-headed nuthatches can be heard twittering away above with a voice that sounds very much like a small squeaky toy.

White-breasted nuthatch at bird feeder.

Besides the size, sound, and habitat preferences of the two, note the brown cap on the aptly named brown-headed nuthatch.

Note brown head with white nape.

Listen carefully for woodpecker-like tapping at this time of year, especially while walking through Explore the Wild. The little nuthatches are currently pecking out holes in soft wood trees, like pines and willows, for potential nest sites this coming spring.

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