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White-breasted Nuthatch

From Opus

Photo by MI_PhilWexford County, Michigan, USA
Photo by MI_Phil
Wexford County, Michigan, USA
Sitta carolinensis


[edit] Identification

Length 15·5 cm (6 in)

  • Blue-grey above
  • White underparts and face
  • Black crown

[edit] Variation

Three forms should be distinguishable in the field: slender-billed (Pacific), Rocky Mountain, and Carolina (Eastern half of the continent). See post 58 in this Birdforum thread[4].

[edit] Distribution

Largely resident from British Columbia, Ontario, and Nova Scotia south to southern California, Arizona, Gulf Coast, and central Florida. Absent from most of Great Plains.

[edit] Taxonomy

A recent paper proposes that the White-breasted Nuthatch should be split into 4 species corresponding to the areas The Pacific, The East, ESNNR [Eastern Sierra Nevada and Northern Rockies] and RGM [Rocky Mountain, Great Basin and Mexico][4].

[edit] Subspecies

Nine subspecies are recognized[1]:

  • S. c. carolinensis - North-eastern North America to Dakotas, Kansas, Oklahoma and eastern Texas
  • S. c. nelsoni - Rocky Mountains of western US to northern Mexico (Sonora and northern Chihuahua)
  • S. c. oberholseri - South-western Texas (Chisos Mountains) to eastern Mexico (northern Sierra Madre Oriental)
  • S. c. mexicana - Mountains of western Mexico (Sierra Madre Occidental)
  • S. c. kinneari - Mountains of western Mexico (Guerrero and Oaxaca)
  • S. c. tenuissima -British Columbia and Cascades to the east slope of the Sierra Nevada of northern California (south to Tulare County)
  • S. c. aculeata -western Washington to western Oregon (east to the west slope of the Cascades), California (east to the west slope of the Sierra Nevada), and northern Baja California (Sierra Juárez)
  • S. c. alexandrae -Mountains of northern Baja California (San Pedro Mártir)
  • S. c. lagunae Mountains of southern Baja California (Sierra de la Laguna)

Three additional subspecies, atkinsi, umbrosa and cookei[2], are not recognised by all authorities.

[edit] Habitat

Deciduous and mixed forests, also coniferous.

[edit] Behaviour

Usually seen creeping on tree trunks, head downward

[edit] Breeding

Five to six white eggs, lightly speckled with red-brown, are laid in a cup of twigs and grass lined with feathers and hair. The nest site is in a natural cavity, bird box, or hole excavated by the birds.

[edit] Diet

They have a varied diet of insects, seeds, acorns and nuts and are known to stores food behind loose bark for use during the winter. Commonly seen at bird feeders.

[edit] Vocalisation

Call: A nasal yank-yank.
Song: A series of low whistled notes.

[edit] References

  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2017. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2017, with updates to August 2017. Downloaded from
  2. eNature
  3. Wikipedia
  4. Birdforum thread (especially from post29) discussing taxonomy of this species

[edit] External Links


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