White-breasted Nuthatch

White-breasted Nuthatch

A White-breasted Nuthatch is a fun bird to see while bird watching. Below are some tips to help you identify White-breasted Nuthatches. We have also put together a list of fun White-breasted Nuthatch t-shirts, White-breasted Nuthatch bird patches, bird houses, bird feeders, binoculars, stickers and other fun bird watching items.

About White-breasted Nuthatches

A small songbird from the nuthatch family which is commonly found on the temperate parts of North America. It is characteristically known for its ability to walk headfirst down tree trunks and large tree branches. The White-breasted Nuthatch is usually found in pairs living in permanent territories, visiting feeders over the fall and winter.

Description and Identification

White-breasted nuthatches are common feeder birds with clean black, grey, and white markings. It has a large head, short tail, short wings, a powerful bill and strong feet; it is 13–14 cm long, with a wingspan of 20–27 cm and a weight of 18–30 g. Its wingspan is longer than its body length. A male White-breasted can be easily spotted by its black crown and neck, contrasting white belly, and blue, black, grey and white wing markings, blue-grey black stark white cheeks and rusty spots near its rear. Typically, the female’s coloring appears duller with a paler crown, a darker nape and no rear spots.

White-breasted Nuthatch Color Pattern

The White-breasted Nuthatch male has a pale blue-grey upper body with a glossy black at the crown of its head and a black band on his upper back, the overlying feathers and flight feathers are dark grey with paler edges. The face and underbody are white thus the name ‘white breasted’. It flaunts its outer black tail feathers with white strips which is visible during flight.

On the other hand, the female has a slightly smaller black back band with slightly paler upperparts and puffier underparts compared to the male. Some females are known to have a grey crown on its head.

White-breasted Nuthatch Size and Body Description

The White-breasted Nuthatch has a large head with a short tail common to its species, a powerful bill and strong feet which assists it in its downward climb head first on tree trunks.

The average size for the White-breasted Nuthatch is:

  • Length of 13-14 cm
  • Wingspan of 20-27cm
  • The weight of 18-30 grams
White Breasted Nuthatch
White Breasted Nuthatch

White-breasted Nuthatch Behavior

The White-breasted Nuthatch male usually courts the female by feeding her small amounts of food and also by bowing, spreading his tail wide and dropping his wing while swinging back and forth. The pair establishes a territory of about 0.1- 0.15km squared in the woodlands and being a monogamous non-migratory species, they remain there year-round until one partner dies or disappears.

What White-breasted Nuthatch Eat and Their Food

White-breasted Nuthatches eat mainly insects, including weevil larvae, wood-boring beetle larvae, other beetles, treehoppers, scale insects, ants, gall fly larvae, caterpillars, stink bugs, spiders and click beetles. They forage mainly on trunks and larger limbs of trees, climbing about and exploring all surfaces and sometimes feed on the ground. During fall and winter, it joins flocks of chickadees or titmice, to forage along bark crevices, tree trunks and limbs. They also eat seeds and nuts, including acorns, hawthorn, sunflower seeds, and sometimes crops such as corn. At bird feeders, they eat sunflower seeds, peanuts, suet, and peanut butter 

Being an omnivorous bird, it mostly eats insects and seeds where they collect acorns and cache them in a narrow opening in the tree and forces them open with its strong beak. The White-breasted Nuthatch also forages along tree trunks and branches using its strong legs and feet to hop around.

Where White-breasted Nuthatches Live and Habitat

White-breasted Nuthatches are birds of mature woods, and they’re often found in deciduous forests. They are also found at woodland edges and in open areas with large trees, such as parks, wooded suburbs, yards and densely wooded areas or open spaces with large trees. They are found year-round in the United States and parts of Canada, Mexico, and Central America. Because the White-breasted Nuthatch habitually wedges its excess food into tree bark crevices, this distinct bird can often be spotted in densely wooded areas or open spaces with large trees.

Its preferred habitat is areas with old-growth tending to fall off or mixed forests and is mainly found in the lowlands.

Range and Migration

White-breasted Nuthatches are non-migratory birds found mostly in the southern states and southeastern seaboard of North America. Nuthatches are usually permanent residents. In occasional years, numbers may move south in the western and northern parts of the range, in an unexplained irruptive movement

White-breasted Nuthatch Lifecycle

The female White-breasted Nuthatch builds nests in existing tree cavities, even abandoned woodpecker holes, laying 5 to 9 eggs which are incubated for 2 weeks. Breeding continues yearlong with the pair remaining together chasing other nuthatches from their territory.


White-breasted Nuthatches lay between five and nine spotted eggs. The pairs remain together on nesting territory all year and may mate for life. Courtship behavior begins in late winter. In courtship display, male raises head, spreads tail, droops wings, sways back and forth, and bows deeply. Male also perform much courtship feeding of females. Nest site is a large natural cavity or old woodpecker hole, usually 15-60′ above ground; may rarely use birdhouses and sometimes excavate their own nest cavity. While the female incubates the eggs, the male will bring her food. Females build the nest on their own, lining the nest cavity with fur, bark, and lumps of dirt and crush an insect around the perimeter of the nest to repel predators. She then builds a nest cup of fine grass, shredded bark, feathers, and other soft material. White-breasted Nuthatches often reuse their nest holes in subsequent years.


Bird Watching Academy & Camp Subscription Boxes

At Bird Watching Academy & Camp we help kids, youth, and adults get excited and involved in bird watching. We have several monthly subscription boxes that you can subscribe to. Our monthly subscription boxes help kids, youth, and adults learn about birds, bird watching, and bird conservation.

  • Kids Bird Watching Monthly Subscription

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  • Kid & Adult Bird Watching Starter Pack Subscription

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  • Kids Bird Watching Starter Pack Subscription

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Bird Watching Binoculars for Identifying White-breasted Nuthatches

The most common types of bird watching binoculars for viewing White-breasted Nuthatches are 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. Bird Watching Academy & Camp sells really nice 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. You can view and purchase them here.

  • Birding Binoculars

    Birding Binoculars

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  • Kids Binocular 8x21

    Kids Binoculars

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White-breasted Nuthatch T-shirts

If you love the White-breasted Nuthatch you should purchase a Bird Watching Academy & Camp T-shirt. To help support bird conservation we donate 10 percent to bird conservation activities.

White-breasted Nuthatch Iron On Patches

Kids, Youth, and Adults love to collect our Bird Watching Academy & Camp iron on patches. Our bird watching patches help you keep track of the birds you have seen an identified. You can also display the patches on our Bird Watching Academy & Camp banners.

The White-breasted Nuthatch is a great iron on patch to start your collection with. The patches are durable and can be sewn on or ironed on to just about anything.

  • White Breasted Nuthatch iron on patches

    White Breasted Nuthatch Iron on Patches

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  • Bird Banner with iron on patches

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White-breasted Nuthatch Stickers

Stickers are a great way for you to display your love for bird watching and the White-breasted Nuthatch. We sell a monthly subscription sticker pack. The sticker packs have 12 bird stickers. These sticker packs will help your kids learn new birds every month. 

Bird Feeders For White-breasted Nuthatch

There are many types of bird feeders. Here are our favorite bird feeders for your backyard. We use all of these bird feeders currently. Kids will have a great time watching birds eat at these bird feeders. Using this collection of bird feeders will provide a wide variety and many types of birds.

Best Bird Houses for White-breasted Nuthatch

There are many types of bird houses. Building a bird house is always fun but can be frustrating. These 4 bird houses have become our favorites. Getting a bird house for kids to watch birds grow is always fun. We spent a little extra money on these bird houses but they have been worth the higher price and look great. 

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