Nuthatches & more; Mammoth

Observers: Donna Willey
Date: 03/06/2008
Time: 07:50 PM -0500

All winter I have enjoyed watching the small nuthatches that live up here in the mountains and travel up and down the fir trees and pines looking for insects, seeds and nuts. While doing a web search on the nuthatch family I learned that this little bird belongs to the family Sittidae which is a Greek word meaning a bird that pecks at the bark of trees. The English name for the nuthatch was "nuthack." The British gave this name to the little birds because of their habit of wedging nuts and seeds in tree crevices and then hacking them open with their strong bill. I have watched our Sierra nuthatches do this... taking fat pumpkin seeds from the feeder and then flying away with them to another part of the tree and working on them away from the crowd. According to, of the 22 species of nuthatches worldwide only 4 of them are found in No. America: the white-breasted, red-breasted nuthatches, the pygmy nuthatch and the brown-headed nuthatch. In Mammoth I have seen the first 3 nuthatches mentioned at my feeder along with the small brown creeper. The nuthatches that come to our trees and feeder are pretty much unafraid of humans and I have climbed up my ladder to fill the feeder with pumpkin seeds and have had the little red-breasted nuthatch fly up to me and sit within inches of my face as he waited for my job to be done. They are a joy to watch and fun to photograph. Long live the nuthatch!!!