An online resource based on the award-winning nature guide

Red-breasted Nuthatch Irruption

As a rule, most Red-breasted Nuthatches winter within their breeding range. Irruptive movements southward typically occur every two to four years when conifer cone production on breeding grounds is poor. This fall’s numbers confirm that it is a banner year for Red-breasted Nuthatches in the Northeast, due to their irruptive flights south.

The large number of Red-breasted Nuthatches at our feeders come as no surprise, as this year’s winter bird forecast by Ron Pittaway predicted a Red-breasted Nuthatch irruption due to the poor spruce seed crops in much of the eastern boreal forest. Even so, the numbers are impressive, as you can see from Ken Kaufmann’s (Audubon’s Field Editor) comparison of eBird’s September 2017 and September 2018 Red-breasted Nuthatch sightings.

RBNUT2-Dobd-dDWsAADR2y.jpg large

Naturally Curious is supported by donations. If you choose to contribute, you may go to http://www.naturallycuriouswithmaryholland.wordpress.com and click on the yellow “donate” button.

15 responses

  1. Alice Pratt

    Yaaayy! I saw one a 1/2 hour ago…..have yummy birdseed with peanuts in it & put a suet basket out every morning, a few feet away from kitchen window & door. Love the White Breasted Nut hatches, as well. Oh, I just enjoy all birds!

    January 2, 2019 at 8:45 am

  2. Marilyn

    I’ve been watching for them; so far have seen only plenty of the usual – chickadees, titmice, w,b nuthatches, downy and hairy woodpeckers, and cardinals. Red squirrels, but no grays.

    January 2, 2019 at 8:46 am

    • Alice Pratt

      You can have some …or all of my gray squirrels! At least 3! 🤣

      January 2, 2019 at 9:37 am

  3. Maria van Beuren

    Yes! I have been amazed at the numbers of these birds at my feeders this year. In previous years, one or two individuals were great, and this year I have ten at a time in mid New Hampshire.

    January 2, 2019 at 8:47 am

  4. awfirestone

    Love reading this. I have had one, that I can tell, red breasted nuthatch here year round for a few years now. I have never seen any more than one at a time, so I assume it’s a loner. I have many of the other nuthatches. Love the tiny red breasted the best tho…

    January 2, 2019 at 8:48 am

  5. I’ve seen ZERO of any predicted irruptions in Randolph Center. In fact I’ve had just chickadees, hairies and downies as regulars w/occasional wb nuthatch and a few doves. And surprisingly blue jays aren’t very present. Rare to see a goldfinch or even a junco here this year. The squirrels don’t make my yard very inviting for groundfeeders, I must say.

    January 2, 2019 at 8:48 am

  6. david

    I’ve seen almost nothing but Chickadees at our feeder in West Windsor, VT . . .

    January 2, 2019 at 9:00 am

  7. Diane

    It would be nice if there was a way to enlarge the map.

    January 2, 2019 at 9:09 am

  8. lucy Gatchell

    Wow. The maps are informative!! Wonder if it is just one at our feeder or more showing up separately…xo

    On Wed, Jan 2, 2019, 8:38 AM Naturally Curious with Mary Holland Mary Holland posted: “As a rule, most Red-breasted Nuthatches winter > within their breeding range. Irruptive movements southward typically occur > every two to four years when conifer cone production on breeding grounds is > poor. This fall’s numbers confirm that it is a banner y” >

    January 2, 2019 at 9:11 am

  9. Bill on the hill

    …By the looks of the map it is not an irruption, it is an invasion!
    Thanks for putting this out there Mary as I will be looking for these guys at my suet holders.
    Happy New Year Mary & to your family.
    Bill Farr…

    January 2, 2019 at 10:04 am

  10. Always fine to see these little guys!

    January 2, 2019 at 11:10 am

  11. Having done two Christmas Bird Counts in the past couple of weeks, I think it’s safe to say that red-breasted nuthatches continued farther south this winter. While there are a few around, they aren’t present in any particularly great numbers. Last winter they were nearly non-existent in these parts, so -like all bird populations- they ebb and flow. Glad that at least SOME are finding enough to eat to stay put!

    January 2, 2019 at 11:39 am

    • Thanks for the update, Mark. I’m in total agreement with you and should have made a point of their being a bit south of central Vermont this year! Happy New Year!

      January 2, 2019 at 12:06 pm

  12. Char Delabar

    >

    January 2, 2019 at 4:16 pm

  13. Toni Callahan

    Well, whadayaknow??

    January 14, 2019 at 4:45 pm

Leave a Reply to awfirestone Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s