This animated little bird is an enjoyable sight as it scurries over trunks and branches in search of insects. The white-breasted nuthatch does not migrate; it is a welcome resident of western Pennsylvania, where it prefers our abundant oak, beech, and hickory trees due to their large seeds and nuts.
The name “nuthatch” derives from the bird’s habit of wedging nuts or acorns into the bark of a tree, then using its sharp bill to extract the meat. Nuthatches will also store food for winter by hiding it in the cracks and crevices of tree bark.
Unlike most other bark-foragers, nuthatches are built to move in all directions on the surface of a tree. Their distinctive foraging technique includes a pause during which they hang from the tree with tail up and head out at a 90° angle, the charming and characteristic posture captured in the photo.
Photo: Bill Hubick