Monday, May 8, 2023

Irresistible! Attract White-breasted Nuthatches to Your Feeder

White-breasted Nuthatches may be small in stature. But they make up for it with an abundance of personality!

These birds are found widely across the United States. So chances are good that you have some near you to attract to your feeder.

How do you attract White-breasted Nuthatches to your feeder? Continue reading to learn how to attract White-breasted Nuthatches to your yard.

Photo of White-breasted Nuthatch
White-breasted Nuthatch. Greg Gillson

Why attract White-breasted Nuthatches to your bird feeder?

Nuthatches are such interesting birds. But, I guess, that's what you'd expect from a bird that approaches the world upside-down!

Crawling actively over the bark of trunks, limbs, and larger branches, these birds inspect every nook and cranny for food. Their favorite way to look for food is to crawl head-first down a tree.

Unlike the sparrows, which stay at your feeder and eat seeds there, White-breasted Nuthatches take only one seed at a time. They grab a seed and then fly off to open it on a nearby branch, safe from more aggressive birds.

They usually come to the feeder as single birds. You won't find this species in flocks. In late summer they may travel as a small family group, but usually they are solitary. The result is, they don't eat as many seeds as other feeder birds.

No wonder they are a favorite feeder bird!

Photo of White-breasted Nuthatch

What foods will attract White-breasted Nuthatches to your feeder?

For much of the yar, White-breasted Nuthatches are primarily insect eaters. But they switch to eating more seeds in fall and winter. 

Like many birds, they love black oil sunflower seeds. Offering black oil sunflower seeds at your feeder is the easiest way to attract them.

Then, again, they got their name from their habit of pounding open nuts, such as acorns. They fly to a branch and hold the nut with their large feet. Then they hack them open with pounding blows from their chisel-shaped bill. Nut-hack became nuthatch.

Peanut pieces or halves are also a favorite food. 

Likewise, they love peanut butter spread on bark.

They also are fond of eating suet.

White-breasted Nuthatches are especially fond of suet, especially in winter. I always purchase St Albans Bay Suet blocks (Amazon affiliate link). It comes in several flavors, including peanut. They fit in suet feeders (below).

Here's something perfect for White-breasted Nuthatches. It's the Kaytee brand bird food with peanuts AND suet chunks. (Amazon affiliate link)

Photo of White-breasted Nuthatch

What kind of feeders do White-breasted Nuthatches like?

White-breasted Nuthatches will eat at any kind of feeder. As mentioned, they take seeds on-at-a-time and fly away to eat them.

However, they can be intimidated by the squabbling sparrows. And the larger birds such as jays may keep them off the platform and hopper feeders.

Thus, the best feeder for White-breasted Nuthatches is a tube feeder. Fill a tube feeder with black oil sunflower seeds and the nuthatches will thank you by visiting regularly.

I really love the way my iBorn tube feeder (Amazon affiliate link) looks, with it's copper top.  A screw driver takes off the lower perch and opens it up for cleaning.

White-breasted Nuthatches love suet, as mentioned earlier. However, sometimes starlings and jays can take over a suet cage and keep smaller birds away. That's when an upside-down suet feeder comes in handy. Jays, blackbirds, and starlings are thwarted, but chickadees, wrens, nuthatches, and woodpeckers can feed with ease.

I bought a Nature's Way Upside-down suet feeder (Amazon affiliate link) a couple years ago and have been very happy with it.

I created this YouTube video: At Your Feeder: White-breasted Nuthatch. It's a brief introduction to this feeder bird. You may enjoy other bird and bird watching videos on my channel. Check it out!

Where to place your bird feeder for White-breasted Nuthatches

Photo of White-breasted Nuthatch

Larger and flocking birds at the feeder scare White-breasted Nuthatches. So they may sneak up to the feeder when other birds aren't around. 

A tube feeder with black oil sunflower seeds will attract White-breasted Nuthatches if you set it up away from other bird feeders. 

These birds like to approach the feeder with caution. They don't like to be out in the open Thus, set up your bird feeder near a tree or other staging perch. They will fly to the tree first, then when it's safe, to the feeder.

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How else can you attract White-breasted Nuthatches to your yard?

White-breasted Nuthatches are also attracted to water features and shallow bird baths.

White-breasted Nuthatches will nest in birdhouses (Amazon affiliate link). The hole diameter must be small (1-1/8 inches). "Bluebird boxes" have larger entrance holes (1-1/2 inches). Larger entrance holes are often taken over by House Sparrows and Starlings. The size of quarter dollar coin is the right size for White-breasted Nuthatches.

By providing a bird nest box, you may keep nuthatches in your yard in the spring and summer when they normally abandon the bird feeder.

Photo of White-breasted Nuthatch

Problems with White-breasted Nuthatches: If you have attracted too many to your feeder

It is unlikely that you'd ever have too many nuthatches at your feeder. 

However, in the later fall, they sometimes come all day to the feeder and take sunflower seeds away. They store these in knot holes or hide them away in crevices in the bark. This is called a cache.

They will eat these seeds later in the winter.

If this is the case, you may want to limit the number of seeds and nuts you offer. Feed only what the birds eat by late morning. Let the sunflower seed feeder go empty. Refill it in the evening or early morning.

White-breasted Nuthatch FAQ

Ask questions in the comments below about attracting and feeding White-breasted Nuthatches and I'll add the answer here!

Related articles:

Why aren't birds coming to your feeder?

First in series: Irresistible! Attract Mourning Doves to your feeder

Next in series: Irresistible! Attract Song Sparrows to your feeder

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January 2023: Thank you so much for visiting! I am working on a YouTube channel on birds and bird watching. Check it out here:


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