Not all birds fly south in winter. The hardy birds stick around. The nuthatch is one such sturdy bird despite a wispy appearance.
While maintaining a pair bond and a home territory the nuthatch is a twelve-month resident of Wisconsin. This necessitates the pair spending long hours gathering enough food to last throughout the winter. After the first hard frost all the tasty insects will be gone. There will be lean pickings for them if their seed stores aren’t adequate until spring.
The nuthatch is not a picky eater. Under the loose bark of slowly departing trees he’ll find all sorts of creeping, crawling critters including ants, beetle larvae, spiders, caterpillars and millipedes. After the insect life is frozen out, acorns, berries, corn and the kindness of bird-feeding humans get this Red-breasted Nuthatch through lean times.
Black oil sunflower seeds and peanuts seem to be the hands down favorites for the White-breasted Nuthatch. I have yet to see one carry away a different seed unless it was wrapped in a suet cake.
With continual forays to the backyard feeders, the White-breasted Nuthatch is always looking out for tomorrow. There is no way a White-breasted Nuthatch can remember the location of the thousands of seeds he’s hidden during the summer, so an abundance is crucial.
Given the possibility many of his seeds are plundered by passing squirrels, good hiding spots are important.
The southbound migration through Wisconsin has started for many bird species already. Soon only the winter residents will remain. Make the effort now to supply seeds to the nuthatches…small investment. They may fill your trees with seeds, too, and provide you with a little kitchen-window entertainment for the winter.