LIFE'S BETTER IN THE MOUNTAINS

Monday, March 16, 2009

Nuthatches and the Nesting Box

Various bird houses hang from the trees throughout the woods at our house. At the end of the season we clean all the bird houses and leave them in place for the winter. One of the houses apparently got used after we cleaned it. This house is favored by the Chickadees.

On Monday I looked out to see a White-breasted Nuthatch coming and going at the bird house. What a surprise.

She came out of the house with her mouth totally full of nesting material.


She struggled at times to get the big globs through the opening.

She carried them to the tree trunk.



Both of the nuthatches worked. Here they are passing something from one to the other.



The pieces of material were placed on a branch near the tree trunk. Methodically, the two nuthatches flew from the bird house to the tree and back. The gentle wind kept blowing the material from the branches as it accumulated.




This bird stopped what she was doing and looked straight at me and the camera. Then she resumed her work.
After removing quite a bit of material, the nuthatch began tucking the material under the eaves of the bird house.






I watched for a very long time as the nuthatch went about her job. She definitely had a plan.



To our amusement, the nuthatches worked all day long to clean out the bird house. Taking short breaks to eat or drink, they kept on working. At the end of the afternoon, the bird house looked like this:


They left lots of nesting material tucked under the eaves. Then they pulled more material to cover the opening. I've never seen such a sight. On Tuesday morning, one of the nuthatches returned and I looked forward to another fun day of watching. She removed all the material from inside the house. Then she took the stuffing from under the eaves, leaving the bird house totally clean.
Neither of the nuthatches has been seen entering or leaving the bird house since Tuesday. I wonder what they are thinking.

35 comments:

Lynne said...

What a fun thing to watch and to share with us. I think it's the best thing about birding, just watching them intereact and go about their daily lives. Don't you wonder what they think? Are they purely driven by instinct or do they think through a process?

LOVE this post. It really made me smile.

Cedar ... said...

Fascinating! Keep us posted, ok?

RuthieJ said...

Well, that's pretty interesting about your nuthatches Carolyn--I thought they were cavity nesters! Do you suppose they just are moving all that nesting material from your house to another of their own choosing? Great pictures!

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Wow---how interesting, Carolyn.. Wonder if they were building a nest in the tree on the branch--and using the 'stuff' from inside the nestbox????? Keep us posted. I could watch that over and over.

Hugs,
Betsy

The White Bench said...

Hello!
Thanks for your lovely words...
I am soo happy with my Golden, love her very much!
Your photos are precious and so sweet!
Monica.

Dog_geek said...

Cool pictures! I guess the nuthatches are going green this year and are into recycling!

robin andrea said...

What a great series of photos. It will be interesting to see what they were up to. I hope they come back and build their nest where you can keep an eye on it.

Kerri said...

Nature at it's finest! What a neat way to spend the day...watching these guys do their building.

TheWritersPorch said...

Carolyn.....
Your pictures are always so AWESOME
how do you capture such great up close shots?

Karen Hargett said...

Now that is what I call spring cleaning! Great pictures. The one where she gives you the eye made me laugh out loud.

Cheryl said...

Oh this is such a wonderful post...the photography is great......tku for sharing this wonderful piece of nature at its best......

Tina said...

After a long winter of reading and posting winter scenes and winter birds...your post was very refreshing to read..I think I could also sit for hours watching any of the birds build or rearrange a nest..What great photos you captured and I am anxious to hear what happens next!!'
Great post!!

Shellmo said...

I loved these photos - so interesting and fun to watch them at work!! And do you think perhaps they thought by putting nesting material in the eaves that they were creating extra insulation? I hope you keep track of these cuties!

George said...

Thanks for a fascinating post with great pictures. I've never seen such behavior as you captured.

Kallen305 said...

Wonderful post!!! I have never seen the nest making process so this was a real treat!! I too wonder what they were doing.

You are so lucky being able to put up nest boxes. I could never do it in my yard due to house sparrows and too many roaming cats!

cedrorum said...

Wow, great pictures.

pat said...

She is thinking.."honey, help me move the furniture again!"

fishing guy said...

Carolyn: Not only a fun day of watching; definetly a fun day of capturing all the action. I loved the post.

Wisconsin Birder said...

Hi Carolyn,
thanks for stopping by my blog. Always great to connect with someone who is (or was) in Wisconsin. Great post on the nuthatch - how fun to see!

The Birdlady said...

Great shots and what fun! I've had just about everything nest in my boxes except nuthatches...they share a cavity in a tree with squirrels - the squirrels use it in the winter, then the nuthatches chase them away and nest there in the spring and summer.

John's Arts & Crafts said...

Great photos! Birds are not the only creatures needing nesting boxes! New blog on the Hx. of the Ladybug: http://historyoftheladybug.blogspot.com/

Bird Girl said...

Nature never ceases to amaze! And this Carolyn is quite an amazing post!!! I'm so glad I didn't miss it! What hard workers these nesting birds are - I can't wait to see what they do next! Thanks for this absolutely wonderful story!

KB said...

Awesome photos! I love them.

What kind of camera do you use to get such great zoomed photos?

Jayne said...

How funny! What great shots of them working feverishly Carolyn. I've had the Brown-headed nuthatches build in a house and posted a photo once of their beautifully intricate nest.

troutbirder said...

Amazing. Now is it legal, according to state or federal regulations, to remove the furnishings from anothers house to your own?

jan m said...

I had to do a birdhouse clean-out here. Wish I had a nuthatch working for me. It's neat that you were able to see the process over time.

Cicero Sings said...

What an interesting series of photos and account!

grammy said...

I like the birdhouse with the tin roof. Did you make it?

nina at Nature Remains. said...

I bet you could have watched all day!

NCmountainwoman said...

Thanks for all your comments. I'm glad you enjoyed the nuthatches as much as we did.

Ruthie - I didn't see them fly away with any of the materials. And they didn't seem concerned when the wind blew it away. I do think it is rather rare for nuthatches to use bird houses, and we have plenty of cavities in the trees nearby. I will be surprised if they actually build a nest in the house. There's been no activity since Tuesday.

Carol and KB - I use a Nikon D50 and I love it. For whatever reason, this model is no longer made. I've tried the new ones, but I don't like them as well. I use a Nikkor lens, 70-300mm for most bird shots.

Shelley - The nuthatch removed all the material from the eaves the next day.

Tina and Nina - I DID sit and watch most of the day! After I went inside, I kept coming back to the window for more. During lunch, my husband and I did nothing but watch them from the kitchen table.

Grammy - We bought the bird house from a local craftsman. We like things a little different and this one is easy to clean. I hope the birds like to hear the rain on the tin roof. It is usually used by the chickadees all summer.

jeannette stgermain said...

what a busy little bird - it's kinda cute to see "someone" else work so hard!

Ruth said...

How interesting. I am waiting for the sequel!

Dave's Bird Watching Blog said...

How cool that you got to observe this! Great pictures and storytelling, Carolyn. Now get your brackets filled out and head inside for some hoops! :-)

Leedra said...

They wanted to be sure no other bird came and got their stash so they made it look like they were at home there. When they were done they didn't care 'who' came to use the cleaned out house. This was a neat post, really enjoyed it.

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Robin Easton said...

Lucky lucky you getting to photograph this whole thing. I too LOVE birds and am forever amazed at how intelligent they are. I often rescue them from the neighbors' cats. Luckily we have a wildlife sanctuary near by and they give the birds antibiotics and are able to hear almost 600 - 800 a year and release them back into the wild.

You photos are just beyond precious
Thank you for sharing them.
Robin Easton
www.nakedineden.com