Saturday, September 8, 2007

Red-Breasted Nuthatch!

We had an exceedingly rare visitor at our backyard feeder today: a red-breasted nuthatch. I caught a glimpse of the bird when leaving on a quick trip to the library. I thought it might be our elusive wren (often heard, rarely seen), but house wrens are more a grayish brown and this bird was a grayish blue. I snatched up the binoculars and caught another quick glimpse of it striding up one of our hackberry trees. I knew at once what it was.

I crossed my fingers it would hang around today. Sure enough, when I returned from the library and was mowing our backyard, it made several quick visits to the feeding tray. When I finished, I sat in the kitchen and watched the tray. It was coming down for sunflower seeds and carrying them off to the safety of the hackberry. I sprinkled some more seeds into the tray and took up my observing position in the kitchen, accompanied by Samba and my Canon S2 IS digital camera. I managed to get a few pictures. Not great shots, but not terrible either. A lot of detail can be seen.

I have only seen a red-breasted nuthatch once before. Coincidentally it was in our backyard. White-breasted are common enough at Missouri state parks. It might be that red-breasted nuthatches simply pass through the area when migrating, though Sibley lists them as winter residents in our part of the country. Anyway, it was a wonderful addition to our usual urban crew of mourning doves, house sparrows, grackles, starlings, and red-winged blackbirds. Before long, several grackles discovered the sunflower seeds, and a group of nervy sparrows also flew up. The nuthatch made a few more abortive passes at the feeder and then retired to the trees to wait out the larger birds.

No comments: