Birds of Seabrook Island

COAST BIRDS
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ANECDOTES

  Red-breasted Nuthatch
 
 

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  Order Passeriformes
   Suborder Passeres - Oscines (Song Birds)
      Parvorder Passerida (Superfamily Sylvioidea)
         Family Sittidae - Nuthatches, Wallcreepers
            Subfamily Sittinae - Nuthatches
  Passerines are generally smaller than non-passerines. They have a perching foot with three toes directed forward and the one backward with locking tendons to facilitate perching when their tendons are flexed. All passerines scratch by bringing the foot over the wing. Incubation ranges from 11 -21 days. Young hatch blind with little or no down and spend 10-15 days or so in the nest - development is rapid and parents provide care beyond fledging.
Oscines are passerines with complex syringeal musculature used to produce varied vocalizations. 
Sylvioidea includes nuthatches, creepers, wrens, tits, kinglets, and Old World Warblers.
Nuthatches are mostly woodland birds that use their feet to climb up or down trunks and branches without using their tail as a prop (scansorial). Our representatives are hole nesters.  When they eat seeds and nuts, they may wedge them in crevices and pound them open with their bills. This is a form of tool use - the crevice is a third hand. Their habit of shelling nuts is probably the origin of their name. 
     
     
  Red-breasted Nuthatch, Sitta canadensis
 
    Cornell     USGS     Wiki     EoL
        WINTER - Rare / Rare
            CONIFERS, MIXED FORESTS
 
 
   Red-breasted Nuthatches are smaller than White-breasted Nuthatches, have a distinctive white band above the eye-line, a white cheek below it, a bluish back, and orangish feathers on the belly and tail and wing coverts on the underneath of the bird. The tail is short with a white crescent running through the feathers.

Red-breasted NuthatchRed-breasted Nuthatch.

Botany Bay, Edisto, SC (above)
   Seabrook Island, CS (righth)
. Photos by  Ed Konrad

Red-breasted Nuthatch





  
  
  
       
  RANGE: This species breeds across Canada, from Newfoundland and southern Labrador, around the lower part of Hudson Bay, west to southern parts of the NWT and Yukon. It ranges down the pacific coast to about central California with populations in the western mountains north to central Saskatchewan and Manitoba, southeast to include the Great Lakes and down the Appalachian chain. They withdraw in winter from their more northern areas and higher elevations.
   Like some other boreal birds, Red-breasted Nuthatches are "irruptive" - winter movements depend on food supply. They move south when cone crops are poor and may remain on the breeding grounds all year if they have food.
  BREEDING: Monogamous. One brood? They nest in a cavity excavated in a rotten branch or stump (or an old woodpecker hole). The female builds a bed of bark, grass and roots. She lays 5-6 (4-7) eggs which she incubates for 12 days. Young are altricial. They fledge after 14-21 days and are cared for by both parents.
  DIET: The eat insects and many conifer seeds (young get all insects and spiders). The forage on the trunk and branches. The sometimes flycatch. They may cache food.
  VOICE: Their voice is a series of monotonous, clear, nasal, rising calls repeated slowly. Their calls are shorter and more nasal and metallic than those of the White-breasted Nuthatch (listen to them on the web)
  NOTES:
   Checklists -
      Seabrook. Kiawah - occassional winter.
      Coastal - rare winter visitor. Hilton Head - rare winter visitor. Cape Romain - rare, winter and spring. Huntington Beach - exceptional October.
      ACE - rare, winter.
   CBC: ACE 1, 4, 3, 0, 4, 0, 0, 1; Charleston 0, 4, 0, 0, 2, 0, 0, 2;
            Hilton Head 1, 1, 0, 3, 10, 2, 1, 6;
            McClellanville 2, 8, 4, 0, nc, 0, 1, 0; Winyah Bay x, x, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0; Litchfield/Pawley's 0, 2, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1.
   SCBBA: Nest in Oconee Co.
   P&G: Erratic winter visitor, rare to fairly common. 4 September - 4 May.
   Avendex: 4 records. March and October.
   Potter: Erratic winter visitor - fairly common to common in some years. Mid-September to early May. Rare or absent in other years. Visitors frequent pine forests, often in association with other birds.
  ●  Rare. I haven't seen or heard them on Seabrook but haven't really looked around our stands of pines. They should be present off-and-on in winter - possibly correlated with "winter finch" years... We do see them in Clemson in October feeding with other nuthatches but they are skittish. They seem to be less likely to come to feeders than the other nuthatches.
       
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KEY:    ■ Seabrook list     □ Kiawah list