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The bird that I’m depicting tonight is a White-breasted Nuthatch. I photographed it the other day while walking with friends along the shores of a lake in southeastern Arizona.
We were in a grove of mature mesquite trees when we heard a persistent tapping noise, reminiscent of the sound that a woodpecker would make as it searched for insects under the bark of a tree. It didn’t take long for us to locate the nuthatch. It was creeping up the side of a mesquite, systematically pecking at the wood in order to locate insects or their larvae.
There are several species of nuthatch. White-breasted Nuthatches are the largest and most widely distributed members of the order. They are woodland birds, living more or less exclusively in mature forests. They are year-round residents of most of the United States. In Arizona they invariably inhabit riparian areas near stream or lake banks because it is only those areas that are moist enough to support the larger trees that the nuthatches call home. They resemble woodpeckers in their appearance and habits. It is not unusual to see a nuthatch descending a tree with its head pointed downwards. This individual, however, was ascending the tree and looking up when I photographed it.
Image made with a Canon 5Diii, 400 DO, aperture preferred setting, ISO 1000, f6.3 @ 1/320.