Saturday, November 8, 2014

Pygmy Nuthatch

Kingery and Ghalambor (2001) perfectly describe Pygmy Nuthatche behavior: "Frenetic movements—head first, up tree, down tree, along branches, right-side up and upside down—accompanied by constant chatter, convey the busyness and nervous activity of this gregarious bird as it searches for food.” Certainly this was true for a flock of nuthatches Erika and I found at an Interstate Rest Area in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, on 23 July 2014. Photographing them was difficult as they bounced through the shady, pine understory.

The species is found in Ponderosa Pines in Western North America and in Mexico. This species is one of the few in North America that practices cooperative breeding. About a third of breeding pairs have up to three male helpers, usually related from previous nests. The helpers feed incubating females and the young and defend the nesting area. Family groups also flock together and with other species, to which they generally are socially dominant. During cold weather, Pygmy Nuthatches are capable of controlled hypthermia as they roost together.  Stacks of up to ten or more birds huddle together, and two articles report more than 150 birds roosting in one tree (Kingery and Ghalambor 2001).

No comments:

Post a Comment