Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Red-breasted Nuthatch

Erika and I see Red-breasted Nuthatches all year at our bird feeders. This female—note her gray crown—visited on 17 May 2021. I keep hoping one of my banded nuthatches will appear somewhere else. Red-breasted Nuthatches breed from southern Alaska across central Canada to Laborador south through the Rocky and Allegheny Mountains. Northern birds appear to migrate in the fall. High elevation birds may migrate to lower elevations in the winter. Other populations seem to be year-round residents, with some individuals irrupting southward in alternating years. Ornithologists assume these flights are the result of varying food supplies on the breeding grounds. Curiously, no banding studies exist to demonstrate if migrating birds return to their nesting areas or if survival rates differ during irruption years (Ghalambor and Martin 2020).

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