Red-breasted Nuthatch poses for close-up

Photo by Chris Bosak A Red-breasted Nuthatch grabs a sunflower seed from a feeder in Danbury, Conn., in Dec. 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Red-breasted Nuthatch grabs a sunflower seed from a feeder in Danbury, Conn., in Dec. 2016.

It’s been a good year for Red-breasted Nuthatches in southern New England. Here’s another one that visited my feeder this winter (even though winter hasn’t officially started yet.)

Latest For the Birds column: Red-breasted Nuthatch right on cue

A Red-breasted Nuthatch perches near a birdfeeding station in Danbury, Conn., Oct. 2016.

A Red-breasted Nuthatch perches near a bird feeding station in Danbury, Conn., Oct. 2016.

Here’s the latest For the Birds column, which runs weekly in The Hour (Norwalk, Conn.), The Keene (NH) Sentinel and several Connecticut weekly newspapers.

I wrote three weeks ago about my affinity for the nuthatches we see in New England.

In the middle and southern parts of the region we see white-breasted nuthatches much more frequently than its smaller cousin, the red-breasted nuthatch. The latter variety, however, is seen more often in the northern reaches of New England.

The red-breasted nuthatch does show up at feeders in the middle and southern parts, especially in fall and winter, but not too often and in varying degrees depending on the year. In fact, the little birds will venture all the way to Florida during winter migration.

With that said, I was happy to receive an email from Dean a few days after that column appeared.

“You mentioned red-breasted nuthatches, which reminded me that I have not seen one in years,” Dean wrote from his Marlborough, Conn., home. “They are such cute little birds. Then two days after your article what shows up but an RBN at the feeder.”

A few days after Dean wrote me that email, I was sitting on my deck watching my feeders. It was an unending flurry of black-capped chickadees, tufted titmice, white-breasted nuthatches and downy woodpeckers. I got so tuned into seeing those species that it didn’t immediately register in my brain that a new arrival had appeared.

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Side-by side-comparison of New England’s two nuthatches

A Red-breasted Nuthatch perches near a birdfeeding station in Danbury, Conn., Oct. 2016.

A Red-breasted Nuthatch perches near a birdfeeding station in Danbury, Conn., Oct. 2016.

A White-breasted Nuthatch perches near a birdfeeding station in Danbury, Conn., Oct. 2016.

A White-breasted Nuthatch perches near a birdfeeding station in Danbury, Conn., Oct. 2016.

Here’s a side-by-side (well, really top-to-bottom) comparison of the two nuthatches in New England. The White-breasted is more common throughout much of the region. It is also larger than its cousin. The Red-breasted is more common in the northern parts of New England and visits the southern region in the winter in numbers that vary greatly from year to year.

New bird pays a visit to my feeder

A Red-breasted Nuthatch perches near a birdfeeding station in Danbury, Conn., Oct. 2016.

A Red-breasted Nuthatch perches near a birdfeeding station in Danbury, Conn., Oct. 2016.

I suspected one or more might show up this fall/winter and, well, one did show up over the weekend. I had seen reports of Red-breasted Nuthatches showing up throughout New England. I’ve had these small birds at previous feeders, but not yet at my home on Merganser Lake in Connecticut. Until now …

For more information on this bird, visit my previous post by clicking here.