The New Student's Reference Work/Nuthatch
Nut′hatch, a small creeping bird seen running up and down the trunks of trees, getting its name from its habit of hatching open nuts it has previously wedged in the bark of trees. It is wonderfully nimble, an expert gymnast, finding it no trouble at all to walk along a limb head downward. It has a rather slender, strong straight bill, its sharp claws are well adapted for holding to the bark, the tail is short and square, and is not used in climbing. Its plumage is slate-colored and smooth, not fluffy like its cousin, the chickadee’s. It is seen chiefly in winter, during nesting season seeking seclusion. The white-breasted nuthatch is a common winter bird in the eastern part of the country, its cheerful “Yank! yank! hank! hank!” welcome in the winter stillness; also welcome is the industry and success of its hunting for insect-eggs and larvæ. Other food to its liking, are nuts and seeds. It is frequently seen in friendly association with the titmice. Its slate-colored coat is relieved by black on top of the head and on the wings; its tail is rusty black touched with white; sides of head and under parts white. In the spring it retreats to the deep woods, patiently digs out a hole on a dead limb, lines this hole with feathers and other soft material, making a snug nest for the many white eggs — five to eight, sometimes 10. The red-breasted nuthatch is smaller than the preceding, and is more northerly in its range, nesting from Maine northward and in the mountains farther south.