Who's In the Backyard? Nuthatches & Chickadees -- Fun Facts, Crafts, & Books


The birds are beginning to slow at my feeders, but I am still enjoying them. I am doubling up this week because the summer is almost over and the birds that migrate are beginning to leave here. Today I am going to share about nuthatches and chickadees. I feel like almost everyone knows a chickadee but not everyone recognizes a nuthatch. Do you? We will start with nuthatches. I will be focusing on White-Breasted Nuthatches and Black-Capped Chickadees since those are the species in my yard.

Fun Facts About Nuthatches

Nuthatch by Mdf / CC BY-SA

  1. Nuthatches measure 5-6 inches in length and are considered small birds. They weigh only about one ounce.
  2. They have short tail feathers and a long beak that is slightly upturned.
  3. The female is slightly lighter than the male but that is the only difference.
  4. The female builds the nest out of bark, fir and dirt in cavities in trees.
  5. In late April she will lay 5-9 red spotted cream eggs. She will incubate the eggs for 14 days. Both parents will feed the hatchlings until they are ready to leave the nest. Then they will find their own territory.
  6. They are very loud birds vocally. Its call is an “inh” sound and its song is a “whi’s” sound
  7. They got their name because of how they open and eat nuts. They jam seeds and nut into tree bark and whack them until they open.
  8. White-Breasted Nuthatch Lunch
    Nuthatch Eating by Yurko at English Wikipedia / Public domain

  9. They are monogamous birds. They live in pairs all year round.
  10. White-breasted nuthatches live in most of the U.S. and parts of Mexico and Canada. They do not migrate for the winter but stay in their residence all year.
  11.  They often store seeds for later in the day or a quick meal the next morning.
  12. White-breasted nuthatches are sometimes called the “upside down” bird because it is often seen going down a tree trunk upside down (head first) searching for insects in the cracks and crevices.
  13. The nuthatch has one big toe, the hallux, that faces backwards and three smaller toes that face forward. This is how they are able to go down the trees. They move only one foot at a time and the hallux toe of the other holds onto the bark.
  14. The female nuthatch barely strays far from her mate. She stays in vocal range of him.
  15. In the winter they will join other bird species to form foraging guilds to find food. They know the alarm calls of these birds so they do not have to stay as alert and can focus on finding the food.
  16. The males are less alert of danger when foraging with his mate. The female plays the role of watchdog for the couple.
White Breasted Nuthatch (202616827)
Nuthatch Taking Seed (to hide or eat?) by Jocelyn Anderson / CC BY



 Now I didn't get any other bloggers to share nuthatch posts. Like I said in my introduction they are not as popular of a bird as some. However Downeast Thunder Farm does have a free pattern to make a White-Breasted Nuthatch and I made one!

 I found a few more Nuthatch crafts that I pinned to the Nuthatch Section of my Birds Pinterest Board and will add to it as I find more. 

I also found some children's books about or featuring nuthatches for you to check out and use to teach your kids about these amazing birds.

I have not read most of them but the sample page shared from The Little Book of Woodland Bird Songs was the Nuthatch page!

Now let's take a look at chickadees!

Fun Facts About Chickadees

Black-Capped Chickadee (15290761526)

  1. Black-Capped Chickadees are the state birds of Maine and Massachusetts.
  2. They are called chickadees because of the alarm sound they make. The more “dee” note at the end of their call means they are more agitated.
  3. Chickadees are known to store food and recover it in lean times (usually in the winter). They can remember the hiding place for at least a month. They remember their locations by using clues such as landmarks and sun compass orientation.
  4. They will wait to hide the food if they are being watched especially by other chickadees.
  5. Black-capped Chickadee, Stoney Swamp, Nepean, Ontario (6814278963)
    Taking off with a seed by tsaiproject from Canada / CC BY

  6. A group of chickadees is called a banditry of chickadees.
  7. The range of Black-Capped Chickadees overlaps with Carolina Chickadees. They look very similar sometimes they even cannot tell themselves apart. They have hybridized. Their offspring has a three-note long song which is one less than the Carolina Chickadees and one more than the Black-Capped Chickadees.
  8. Chickadees usually mate for life.
  9. Only about 20% of the Black-Capped Chickadees energy comes from feeders (seeds). They get most of their energy from spiders, insects and even carrion. In the winter 50% of their food is the animal matter.
  10. Black-Capped and Brown-Chested Chickadees watch other birds feeding habits. If they are successful they will copy them. If they are not successful they will not copy them.
  11. A chickadee’s wingbeat is 27 times per second.
  12. They are cavity nesters and will carve out their own cavity in rotten or decaying wood.
  13. They usually lay 6-8 white eggs with light reddish-brown speckling. They hatch in about 12 days and fledge in 21 days.
  14. They do not migrate. And they need twenty times more food in the winter. They tend to eat more food at feeders in the winter, so keep them full!
  15. Chickadees weigh less than half an ounce. They are 5-6 inches in length.
  16. When breeding season begins, the chickadee’s brain enlarges to enable him to create more sounds.
  17. To stay warm in the winter the chickadee erects its soft, thick feathers to trap warm air close to its body.
My sister and Hazel feeding a chickadee by hand in early spring

 By the way in my research I discovered both the chickadee and the nuthatch will eat from a person's hand!



 I had more luck with chickadee crafts. Red Ted Art shared these Paper Mache Birds which include a chickadee.

I also made a felt Chickadee using the pattern at Downeast Thunder Farm.

I found a few more chickadee crafts than nuthatches. You can see more at my Chickadee Section of my Birds Pinterest Board. I also found a few children's books about or featuring chickadees to help teach kids about these adorable little birds.

Have you been enjoying our Who's In the Backyard? Series this summer? I would love to hear if you have. Next week we are taking a break from birds and looking at some of the other creatures in our yard. I hope you will join us!