Monday, 23 June 2014

White-breasted nuthatch

Sitta carolinensis

(Photo from Wikipedia)

Common name:
white-breasted nuthatch (en); trepadeira-de-peito-branco (pt); sittelle à poitrine blanche (fr); trepador pechiblanco (es); Carolinakleiber (de)

Order Passeriformes
Family Sittidae

This species is found throughout most of the United States, as well as in southern Canada and in Mexico as far south as Oaxaca.

These birds are 13-15 cm long and have a wingspan of 20-27 cm. They weigh 18-30 g.

The white-breasted nuthatch is mostly found in mature deciduous forests, particularly maple, hickory and oak, favouring open forests and forest edges. They also use mixed and coniferous forests, riparian vegetation, plantations, rural gardens and suburban parks and gardens. They are present at altitudes of 300-3.650 m.

During spring and summer they feed mainly on spiders and insects such as weevil larvae, wood-boring beetle larvae, other beetles, tree hoppers, scale insects, ants, gall fly larvae, caterpillars, stink bugs, and click beetles. During the rest of the year they feed mainly on seeds and nuts, including acorns, hawthorn, sunflower seeds, and sometimes crops such as corn. They often visit bird feeders and store seeds in loose bark or crevices to consume later.

White-breasted nuthatches breed in April-June. They are monogamous and pair bonds can last over several years. They nest in a natural tree cavity or abandoned woodpecker nest, which the female lines with fur, bark and lumps of dirt on top of which she builds a cup made of fine grass, shredded bark, feathers, and other soft materials. The nest cavity is usually 3-18 m above the ground. The female lays 5-9 creamy white to pinkish-white eggs with reddish brown, grey, or purple speckles. She incubates the eggs alone for 12-14 days while the male brings her food. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge about 26 days after hatching. Each pair raises a single brood per year.

IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and the global population is estimated at 9,2 million individuals. The population has undergone a large increase of 19% per decade over the last 4 decades. Still, since they rely on tree cavities to nest they are sensitive to the loss of mature forests.

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