It is amazing how many backyard birds have expanded their ranges in Georgia during the past several decades.  One of these birds is the white-breasted nuthatch.  Folks often refer to it as  the “Upside down Bird” because it often climbs down trees and limbs headfirst in search of food.

       Up until the 1950s, white-breasted nuthatches were commonly seen in Georgia only in the mountains and was considered scarce elsewhere. However, for reasons that are not fully understood, the bird began expanding its range southward.  Currently is it uncommon north of the Fall Line.  Although it is rare in the southeast corner of the Peach State, it is common below the Fall Line in those areas where there are stands of mature hardwoods and mixed forests.

       Consequently, it is showing up at feeders for the first time across most of the state.  In my case, I have been hearings its characteristic ank, ank, ank call in my yard (located in Monroe County just north of the Fall Line) for a few years. However, beginning less than a year ago, white-breasted nuthatches are now regular visitors to my feeders.

       If you want to attract the largest nuthatch in North America to your feeder, here is a list of some of the bird’s favorite foods.

       The nuthatch seems to prefer sunflower seeds and suet above all other food offerings.  However, it will also dine on peanut hearts, hulled peanuts, baked goods, bird puddings, whole and cracked corn, mixed seed and even meat scraps.

       In my yard, white-breasted nuthatches mainly eat black oil sunflower seeds.  They also consume bird pudding containing peanuts.

       Research has revealed that, when given a choice, white –breasted nuthatches are 25 times more likely to eat hulled sunflower seeds than those that are unshelled. I have yet to test this finding. However, I am anxious to see if the white-breasted nuthatches that visit my feeders will have such a strong preference for unshelled sunflower seeds.

       If white-breasted nuthatches have recently shown up at your feeders, I would be interested in hearing about it.


  1. We’re in Lilburn, close to Stone Mountain Park, well north of the Fall Line, and we have them in our yard every year.

    • John,
      Thank you for sharing your information. I wish I could say my wife and I had been enjoying them every year. That are indeed neat birds!


  2. I have been counting for Project Feederwatch since fall 2006. I have had White-breasted nuthatches at my feeders since then (and probably before.) I feed BOSS (in the shell), suet and have a peanutbutter log. They visit all 3. I am in Dacula, Gwinnett County.

    • Becky,

      Thanks for your response. It sounds like you have a great food combo for WBNs. Do they feed at your feeders throughout the entire year?


  3. We had a pair that actually nested in a box we set up in a tree last year. They were quite fun to watch. They do love their suet and sunflower seeds. They are a very common bird we see year round here in the mountains of north Georgia. It is surprising to me that they are now being seen in many other parts of Georgia. They are very friendly birds and are not frightened off by human presence.

    • naturephotography433,

      Thanks for sharing your observations. I too was surprised when they began showing up in backyards and local Christmas Bird Counts. It is great that you had them nest in a box. Did they nest in a bluebird box?


  4. When we lived in Macon, moved to north GA last fall, we had white breasted nuthatch at most of our feeders for years. We had pine trees right near our deck so they seemed always there. They ate mixed nuts, hot pepper and homemade suet, shelled and unshelled black oil, safflower. Just about my favorite bird.

    • Pat,
      It is good to hear from you. The list of nuthatch foods is appreciated. I hope you folks are doing well.


  5. I have had nuthatch’s for many years at my feeders. I have a mix of seeds, sunflower with and without shells are one also suet. I am 30 miles northwest of Atlanta.

    • Tim,

      Your response to the blog is really appreciated. It is obvious the birds have been residents in your part of the state for many years.


  6. Surprised to read white breasted nuthatches rare north of the Fall Line. The have seemed to be of regular occurrence here in northwest Forsyth County, 1230 ft elevation as well as at nearby Matt Community Park, and up and down the Big Creek Greenway between Bethelview road and Foster Park, SW of Cumming. For the last 5 or 6 years at least.

    • Camm,

      Thanks for the information concerning white-breasted nuthatches in your neck of the woods. It seems they have long been entrenched there for quite some time.


  7. I agree with earlier posters – very surprised to hear they are “uncommon” – We’ve had white-breasted nuthatches in our area (N. DeKalb) for several years. I saw three in the last 30 minutes at oiled sunflower and peanut suet feeders

    • Allyson,

      Thanks for the heads up concerning white-breasted nuthatches in North Dekalb County. I have always been amazed at how different a short distance north or south from a location can be reflected in a bird’s life.
      It sounds like the birds are nesting in your locale.


  8. Down here in the rural area outside of Tallahassee, Florida, the white breasted nuthatches are year round residents and enjoy coming to the feeder to peck on suet cakes and sometimes take a sunflower seed off into the trees.

  9. David,

    Thanks for the information. I have long thought it was odd that the bird has such an odd distribution pattern throughout most of Georgia. It seems that the apparent expansion of its range may end up gaps between Middle GA and Tallahassee being filled in.

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