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.