How would you like to have to eat all your meals upside down?
Well, I have bird in my back yard that is just as happy eating a meal upside down as he is straight up. He also eats sideways, crosswise and most in any position on a tree or suet feeder. He is the white-breasted nuthatch, a permanent resident in my yard.
I have one suet feeder that is upside down, meaning that birds have to cling to the bottom and peck up for bits of suet. For my nuthatch friend, this is no problem. The little fellows are also quite comfortable squeezing through the wires on my several enclosed suet feeders to keep squirrels and grackles at bay.
The nuthatch is still a small bird with a large head and almost no neck. The tail is very short, and the long, narrow bill is straight or slightly upturned.
White-breasted nuthatches are gray-blue on the back, with a frosty white face and under-parts. The black or gray cap and neck frame the face and make it look like this bird is wearing a hood. The lower belly and under the tail are often chestnut.
White-breasted Nuthatches are agile birds that creep along trunks and large branches, probing into bark furrows with their straight, pointed bills. Like other nuthatches, they often turn sideways and upside down on vertical surfaces as they forage. They don’t lean against their tails the way woodpeckers. Many confuse them as a small woodpecker, but they are a different species.
White-breasted Nuthatches are birds of mature woods and woodland edges. They’re particularly associated with deciduous stands, including maple, hickory, basswood, and oak, though they can be found in some coniferous forests. Nuthatches like my yard because there are numerous mature and decaying trees.
Nuthatches have a habit of hopping head-first down a tree trunk that helps it see and detect insects and insect eggs that birds climbing up the trunk might miss. They are also known for stashing food away in holes and crevices in trees. Nesting pairs stay together throughout the year. They typically nest once per year with 5 to 7 tiny eggs.
Nuthatches are really interesting birds. Put out some suet and sunflower hearts and you too, can enjoy birds that feed upside down.