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Arthur C. Bent & the Red-breasted Nuthatch

In 1910, at the request of the Smithsonian Institution, Arthur C. Bent, an ornithologist,  began work on a series of National Museum Bulletins which eventually were published  as 21 volumes of  “Life Histories of North American Birds.”  In these volumes Bent not only wrote his own interesting commentary, but also collected firsthand information from over 800 bird observers and included many of their observations, as well.  For decades these works were unsurpassed and remained the most comprehensive collection of field observations of North American birds available. The following is his introduction to the Red-breasted Nuthatch.  “The red-breasted nuthatch is a happy, jolly little bird, surprisingly quick and agile in his motions. He has the habit of progressing over the bark of trees like his larger relative, the whitebreast, but his tempo is much more rapid, and he extends his journeys more frequently to the smaller branches. Here he winds about the little twigs out to the end, among the pine needles, moving very fast–up, down, and around–changing his direction quickly and easily, seeming always in a hurry to scramble over the branches. He is more sociable, too, than the larger bird, and when a little company is feeding together they keep up a cheery chatter among themselves.”

2 responses

  1. I’m glad there are still naturalists like Bent – such as yourself and Bernd Heinrich – who write so engagingly and non-drily about the world around us. Thank you for this delightful excerpt and photo.

    December 17, 2011 at 10:33 pm

    • Thank you very much, Kellyann, for putting me in the same category as Arthur C. Bent…afraid I would have to have several lifetimes to achieve half of what he did!

      December 19, 2011 at 8:39 pm

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