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Bird-Lore/Volume 01/Sitta carolinensis

Notes from Field and Study

A Nut-hatching Nuthatch

On October 14, 1898, while on a short visit to my old home, at New Baltimore, New York, I sat down near a clump of trees and shrubs to enjoy the bird-life so abundant there.

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ACORN WEDGED IN BARK BY WHITE-BREASTED
NUTHATCH

Photographed from Nature, by F. B. Southwick

Here I saw the Chickadee carefully examining the fruit-heads of the smooth sumach, and twice take from them a mass of spider-web; then, flying to a limb, dissect it and obtain from it the mass of young or eggs. It was with difficulty that the food was disentangled from the silk, and I found on examination that much of it bad been so crushed, that it was impossible to determine whether the web contained eggs or young. While thus engaged, I saw a White-breasted Nuthatch, with something in its

beak, alight on the trunk of a wild cherry tree. While running about over the bark, the bird dropped what proved to be an acorn, but immediately flew down and picked it from the long grass, and returned to the tree. A second time it dropped it, and then, after carrying it again to the tree, thrust it into a crevice in the bark with considerable force, and began to peck at it vigorously. This it did for a few seconds, when I jumped up quickly and, with wild gesticulations, frightened it away. It proved to be the acorn of the pin Oak (Quercus palustris), and as no fruiting tree of this species was nearer than the Island, in the river opposite, I concluded that the bird had carried it across the water from that point.

After photographing the acorn on the tree, I cut the section of bark oft, glued the acorn in its cavity, and the photograph shows the result. — E. B. Southwick, New York City.