Wisconsin Ornithology: White Breasted Nuthatch
In Wisconsin, United States
Size:  (not chosen)
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This series highlights several of my favorite birds, all of which can be found in Wisconsin. I have found all of the birds included in the series (with one exception). Each cache is somehow related to the highlighted bird. In many cases you will find hints to finding the cache in the information provided about each bird. Each cache is hidden in roughly the environment the bird can be found. None of the caches are hidden in a nesting box or a fake nest (with one exception of a very non-standard nest), so if you find a nest or nesting box—please leave it alone it has nothing to do with the cache.
White Breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis)
To just about anyone in Wisconsin with a backyard bird feeder, the White Breasted Nuthatch will be a familiar friend. This busy little bird is a year round residence of the state maintaining a territory in the same location throughout the year. The Nuthatch’s territory expands during the winter and may overlap with the territory of neighbors--that is, until the spring mating season when their territories contract. White Breasted Nuthatches mate for life. While the two sexes appear similar, they may be distinguished by their caps: the male’s head will be a dark black, while the female with have a silver streak in her cap. While pairing for life, the interaction between the two varies throughout the year. They live almost totally independent lives during the fall and early winter. In late winter they begin to renew their bonds. Careful observation of the couple at this time will reveal the male offering the female choice offerings of food. Most of the time the Nuthatch will walk in a zigzag fashion, but frequently the male will be run straight to the female with these morsels of food. The male will continue to bring the female food throughout the breeding season. The female will build her nest and incubate the eggs on her own. However, the male will continue to bring food to the female during the two week incubation period and the two will store food near the nest to make sure the female has a ready supply for herself and then for her young brood.
The Nuthatch is one of the rare birds to move along the trunks of trees both right side up and upside down. By moving up side down, the Nuthatch is able to find food over looked by its’ right side up competitors, such as woodpeckers and creepers. Frequently the Nuthatch will fly to the top of the tree and work its’ way down the tree head first. As already noted, the Nuthatch typically moves down and up the tree in a zigzag pattern. As some have noted, this gives the Nuthatch a comical appearance of seeming to be a mechanical bird. The Nuthatch is also distinguished from woodpeckers and creepers by not using its’ tail for support, depending entirely upon its’ strong toes to hold it to the tree.
The Nuthatch received its’ name from its’ practice of placing a seed or nut in a crack in a tree and then splitting the nut open with it’s powerful beak. While closely associated with its’ dinning on seeds and nuts, the Nuthatch’s diet actually consists primarily of insects.
The White Breasted Nuthatch differs from its’ cousin, the Red Breasted Nuthatch, in its’ preference for mature deciduous woods. The Red Breasted Nuthatch prefers mature coniferous forests. The two species also differ, of course, by the color of their breasts and by the larger size of the White Breasted Nuthatch.
Dog lovers please note: While Prairie Moraine County Park contains an excellence dog park, the cache is hidden in the part of the park that is not a dog park. Dogs must on a leash in this section of the park.
This cache is located in Prairie Moraine County Park. Permit for placement has been approved by the Dane County Parks Department. A copy of the permit maybe obtained by emailing me at the above link.
(No hints available.)
Last Updated: on 10/12/2014 11:01:58 AM Pacific Daylight Time (6:01 PM GMT)
Coordinates are in the WGS84 datum