More on Nuthatches

by Skip Via
skip@swestvalleynaturalists.org

Pat Jaquith’s wonderful post about nuthatches reminded me of how much I enjoy watching them. We have several bird boxes around our house, and pygmy nuthatches will regularly occupy two specific boxes–and, as you’ll see in the videos below, this can lead to some territorial issues.

This is one of the boxes occupied by pygmy nuthatches every season. They usually have two broods per summer, and once we observed three in the same summer. This appears to be a fledging event, but judging from the number of birds, I suspect something else is going on as well. They will often use this house and one other for temporary shelter in the winter, huddling together to stay warm.

This bird box, affixed to the side of our house right by the door, was intended to be decorative, but the nuthatches decided otherwise. Ever wonder how many pygmy nuthatches will fit in a small space? The answer is “a lot.” (Apologies for the shaky video.)

The proximity of these two boxes–about 20 yards apart–has led to the occasional territorial dispute but none as serious as this one. This battle lasted several minutes.

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