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Forest and Rangeland Birds of the United States

Natural History and Habitat Use

White-breasted Nuthatch -- Sitta carolinensis

RANGE: Resident from northwestern Washington, southern British Columbia, central Montana, southern Manitoba, northern Minnesota, northern Michigan, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia south to Baja California, southern Nevada, central and southeastern Arizona, the highlands of Mexico, western and east-central Texas, and northern Florida. Absent from most of the Great Plains.

STATUS: Common.

HABITAT: Occurs primarily in deciduous and mixed forests, and locally in coniferous forests. Prefers open woodlands, pinyon-juniper, forest edges, parks, and partly open situations with scattered trees.

SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Natural tree cavities for nesting, preferably in trees with a minimum of 12 inches dbh.

NEST: Prefers natural cavities in living trees at almost any height for nesting, but will use cavities in dead or dying trees or old woodpecker holes. Rarely, if ever, excavates its own cavity. Chooses apple, elm, maple, aspen, and ponderosa pine for nest trees.

FOOD: Gleans insects from the bark of tree trunks and limbs, but also searches for seeds on the ground. In fall and winter, primarily eats mast, sunflower seeds, and corn. During spring and summer, eats a myriad of arthropods.

REFERENCES: Bailey and Niedrach 1965, Bent 1948, DeGraff et al. 1980, Forbush and May 1955, Kilham 1968, Scott and Patton 1975, Thomas et al. 1979.

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