I finally managed to get a couple decent photos of our Red-breasted Nuthatches – they’re very common here, but they’re quick little buggers! This one is a male, which you can tell from his coal-black cap (on females it’s more grayish). I love their colors, the slaty blue-gray back, the striped face, the buffy underparts. In my totally subjective opinion, they’re far more handsome than their larger white-breasted cousins, and I love their nasal little calls. Where I grew up in Ohio, White-breasted Nuthatches were by far the more common species, with Red-breasteds only visiting occasionally in the winter. Here in the North Woods we have both year-round.
Nuthatches get the nickname “devil down-heads” from their habit of working their way down the trunks of trees head-first in search of food (insects etc.), the opposite of woodpeckers, who generally start lower down on the tree and work their way up. That doesn’t mean they won’t flip right-side up to dig into a particularly promising clump of dead wood, though.
I took a quick glance at what I was posting about at this time last spring – woodcocks displaying, spring peepers calling, butterflies on the wing, pussy willows and hazelnut bushes in bloom. Hard to believe when this year we’re still blanketed under a couple feet of snow.