An online resource based on the award-winning nature guide –

White-breasted Nuthatches Nesting

White-breasted Nuthatches are one of the 85 species of North American birds that are classified as cavity nesters.  Although the young of birds nesting in cavities are protected from the elements, they are still vulnerable to predators.

White-breasted Nuthatches have an unusual strategy for discouraging uninvited guests.  They “bill-sweep” with an object, usually a crushed insect, in their bill, sweeping back and forth on the tree both outside and inside the nest, often for many minutes at a time.  It’s thought that chemical defense secretions from the crushed insect may discourage squirrels from entering the cavity.  (Red-breasted Nuthatches apply sticky conifer resin to both the inside and outside of their nesting cavity, which presumedly serves the same purpose.)

Naturally Curious is supported by donations. If you choose to contribute, you may go to and click on the yellow “donate” button.

3 responses

  1. Bill on the Hill

    I love my nuthatches… They are regulars at the suet feeders all winter long. Every once in a while I’ll get a visit from a pygmy nuthatch too… They are roughly the size of my thumb, I have large hands…
    Fascinating strategy utilized by the nuthatch to keep predators away…
    Bill… :~)

    May 16, 2022 at 8:47 am

  2. Alice

    The more you learn about birds! They are so clever. They certainly love peanuts…yake them right from the feeder suctioned to the window.

    May 16, 2022 at 9:47 am

  3. Cordelia Merritt

    Absolutely fascinating = thank you for this reminder of other species ‘intelligence’. great picture too. Cheers Cordie


    May 17, 2022 at 9:13 am

Leave a Reply

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

You are commenting using your 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