I didn’t know anything about nuthatches except that they are similar to woodpeckers, but are a different family of birds.

They like eating bugs in trees and walk up and down tree trunks. They are, apparently, the only bird that walks headfirst down trees.

There are three kinds and all of them live here. I’ve only seen two of them, but the third one may yet show up.

Red-Bellied Nuthatch

All of these birds live from Mexico to Canada and most places in between. They don’t migrate, though they may decide to fly to a warmer area if the weather is really bad. But they will nest anywhere.

Two on a feeder

The nuthatches are basically identical to each other except for color. I’ve seen two of them on the feeder. There’s the white-breasted nuthatch, which has a white breast, and the red-bellied nuthatch which has a yellow underbody, but some blotchy red feathered areas near its tail. I wondered what those weird-looking red patches were and it turns out, it’s that other nuthatch.

Classic Red-bellied Nuthatch

The third nuthatch, the brown-headed one looks just like the other two, but in the middle of the black cap is a brown beanie. These guys can live in New England but are more common in Canada.

Closely related are the brown creepers and I’ve seen them, too. They are not as pretty or striking as the others. Basically, brown freckled medium size birds with long, pointy beaks. Males and females look the same. I’ve seen them, too.

White-breasted Nuthatch

Mostly though, I’ve seen a lot of red-bellied and whited-chested nuthatches. These are not usually birds that hang out on bird feeders, but they really like ours. Must be the quality of the feed!

So. If you see a bird walking down a tree head first, it’s probably a nuthatch or a brown creeper.

Author: Marilyn Armstrong

Writer, photography, blogger. Previously, technical writer. I am retired and delighted to be so. May I live long and write frequently.

16 thoughts on “WHITE-CHESTED AND RED-BELLIED NUTHATCHES – Marilyn Armstrong”

    1. We have a very good variety because this is essentially a rural area. Israel had THE largest selection of raptors — hawks, eagles, vultures, etc. – of any place on earth. The Audubon people go there to count the birds that transit Israel in April from Africa to Europe and Asia. That’s what got me interested in birds. For a couple of weeks a year, there are raptors everywhere. It’s amazing.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Last summer there was a little bird that landed on our windowsill and sang its little heart out. The window was open so I immediately went over to see what this lovely little creature looked like. Still can’t figure it out what it was. Maybe it was one of those Red-Bellied Nuthatch. It did have a little red on it.


    1. It was probably a Carolina Wren. They are migratory, so they do get up your way. They are small birds, they amazingly LOUD and boy oh boy do they sing! It’s hard to take a picture of them because are always in motion. You can look them up online The sites not only have pictures, but they also have the songs. You can listen and see if that’s your guy. I always know when they are passing through in early spring. I never see them, but I sure can hear them.

      Liked by 1 person

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