Watching White-breasted Nuthatches Build A Nest

by Larry Jordan on March 31, 2009

White-breasted Nuthatch (male) photos by Larry Jordan

Three weeks ago, while checking my bluebird trail at Lema Ranch, I heard a White-breasted Nuthatch calling and followed that call to find a pair building their nest in an old oak tree.

They started bringing in small pieces of bark and lichen, then …

Working at a feverish pace, both the male and female brought fairly large sticks

Too big I thought to get through the entrance hole to the nest

But they managed to turn the sticks sideways to fit them through the hole.

My guess is that this pair of White-breasted Nuthatches was filling in part of this tree cavity with the sticks before placing the final shredded bark, grass and fur lining into the nest cavity.  If all goes well, they will lay 5 – 9 eggs and incubate them for two weeks.

By my calculations, I should be seeing more activity at this nest site soon as the chicks will be fed by both parents for 18 to 26 days before they fledge and then another couple of weeks afterward.  I hope to be able to follow this adventure with them as they raise their young and teach them the art of hunting down insects.

I also have a pair of White-breasted Nuthatches that visit my yard that I hope will use my nestbox as a nesting site this year.  You see, nuthatches will also nest in man-made nest boxes.  Wish me luck!

I leave you with the image of this beautiful and fun bird in flight from its nest.

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Trevor Hampel March 31, 2009 at 10:48 pm

Great sequence of photos. Amazing how they worked how to get the sticks in.

Trevor Hampels last blog post..Alexandra Gardens, Ararat, Victoria


Thomas April 1, 2009 at 2:50 am

This should been an awesome experience Larry. Thanks for sharing this series with us, its unique and rare.

Thomass last blog post..Wild India – Common Indian Monitor Lizard


Dawn Fine April 1, 2009 at 5:47 am

Great series…i really enjoyed seeing the process of building the nest.

Dawn Fines last blog post..Bird Photography Weekly


Larry April 1, 2009 at 6:25 am

@Trevor I was amazed that they were able to get some of these choice sticks through that hole!

@Thomas it was really cool and a greatly enjoyable experience watching them work on the nest

@Dawn thank you. I enjoyed it immensely!


Vickie April 1, 2009 at 6:43 am

Wonderful photos of these nuthatch efforts at nest building. A bit of problem-solving going on!
Fun! Look forward to seeing more and luck with your yard box. I so enjoy watching this kind of behavior.

Vickies last blog post..Red-Shouldered Hawk Territory–II


chris April 1, 2009 at 1:45 pm

Hi Larry,
I love this post. It is nice to be able to observe them like that. It reminds me of my post on the wood nuthatch I saw in Paris. The attitude and behavior were the same 🙂

chriss last blog post..Post dedicated to Thomas (walk the wilderness)


Larry April 1, 2009 at 4:55 pm

@Vickie for me, the essence of bird watching is the behavior. Once you figure out why the specific species indulges in a specific behavior, it makes studying and photographing them much easier. Plus it is a lot of fun!

@Chris thanks. I wish you would have put a link to your nuthatch post here but I will find it and check it out too!


The Zen Birdfeeder April 2, 2009 at 6:05 pm

Great job capturing this series. It was fun watching the progress. Keep us posted?

The Zen Birdfeeders last blog post..Wild Birds Unlimited Bird of the Month<br>Hummingbird


Larry April 2, 2009 at 9:25 pm

@Nancy I will surely keep you posted on the nuthatch’s progress


Sparverius April 3, 2009 at 5:46 am

Larry, great pictures of the nuthatches. I’ve still only seen the Red-breasted Nuthatch. And thanks for stopping by my blog and for the tip on the Kinglet. That’s exactly what it was. I’d only seen a Ruby-crowned Kinglet once.

Sparveriuss last blog post..Flycatcher’s and Crossbills (BPW)


Owlman April 4, 2009 at 10:12 am


Owlmans last blog post..Ivory Billed Woodpecker FOUND!


Natural Moments April 4, 2009 at 7:30 pm

Nice find Larry.

It is amazing how they can maneuvor those sticks into such small spaces. I would always love watching the parents come and go to feed their young.


Amber Coakley April 7, 2009 at 6:20 pm

Great series of photos, Larry!

Amber Coakleys last blog post..Prothonotary Warbler at the Heard


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