When I went out on the back deck to put some birdseed in one of the feeders, I flushed this handsome White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis). It did not seem unduly alarmed and flew over to the siding on the house where it remained long enough for me to get some pictures.The name “nuthatch” comes from their habit of wedging a nut, seed or insect into a crevice and then hammering it with their sturdy beaks in order to break it open (or “hatch”) it. Excess food is cached in crevices or natural cavities in tree bark. They are frequently seen moving along tree trunks or large branches looking for insects. They are also able to go headfirst down tree trunks. In the photograph, this individual shows its strong beak, large feet with well-developed claws, and short tail.
Nuthatches usually nest in holes in trees, either natural cavities or abandoned woodpecker nests. They are reported to smear foul-smelliing insects around the nest hole to deter squirrels.