Las Pilitas Nursery

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Santa Margarita, CA 93453

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This website is dedicated to Bert Wilson. His genius continues to inspire us.

Red-breasted Nuthatches, Sitta canadensis

Range of the Red-breasted nuthatch

The Red-breasted nuthatch is found throughout California in various coniferous habitats. It is absent from the central valley and the desert. It will move into higher mountain areas in the summer.

Migration of the red-breasted nuthatch

The Red-breasted-nuthatch moves down slope in winter and up into higher elevations in the summer.

Reproduction of the Red-breasted nuthatch

The Red-breasted nuthatch is a primary nester. That is, it excavates its own nesting cavity. They prefer to nest in dead wood. The Red-breasted nuthatch has an odd behavior of smearing pitch around its nest entrance. The purpose of this is unknown. It is most likely to deter predators.

Habitat/plant community used by the Red-breasted Nuthatch

The Red-breasted nuthatch uses various coniferous plant communities. See plant community links below.

Closed Cone Pine Forest

Lodgepole Pine Forest

Yellow Pine Forest

Red Fir forest

Mixed Evergreen Forest

Coastal redwood forest

Diet of the Red-breasted nuthatch

The Red-breasted nuthatch gleans insects and eats the seeds from coniferous trees.

Niche filled by the Red-breasted nuthatch

The Red-breasted nuthatch has a behavior similar to that of a brown creeper. They start at the base of a tree or branch and work their way upwards in a spiral fashion, gleaning as they go. Then they fly down to the base of the next tree and start over.

How to attract a Red-breasted nuthatch to your garden

Red-breasted nuthatches like forested areas with older trees. This may be difficult to archive in your back yard. If you are near an established forested area, you may be able to attract one. You can plant most any coniferous tree you like. I have a large red wood tree in my back yard. The nearest forest is 20 miles away and I am amazed at the birds that stop by.

From a Canadian "A pair of red-breasted nuthatches were sighted in Nova Scotia, Canada near a heavy wooded area. I didn't know they came this far North." Marg. R.