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Brown-headed Nuthatch

Brown-headed Nuthatch with insect, Babcock Ranch, 2011-09-23, DSC_1098.jpg

The Brown-headed Nuthatch is a tiny bird with a very short tail and a very squeaky voice. Indeed, its voice sounds like that of a “rubber ducky”. The Brown-headed Nuthatch is one of three nuthatch species found in Florida, but the only one regularly found in south Florida. The Brown-headed Nuthatch is a bird of pines and is found in pinelands of Florida and the Southeast. It is a bird that feeds on insects and spiders that it finds in bark crevices and among the needles of pines. It eats pine seeds retrieved from open cones. Nuthatches fill a niche somewhat similar to that of a woodpecker – except that they not only move up a tree surface, but also down – head-first – thus they readily finds insects and spiders from above as well as from below or from the side – approaches that woodpeckers usually take. Like woodpeckers, nuthatches are cavity nesters. They readily excavate their own nest in well-rotted wood, use a natural cavity, or make use of an abandoned woodpecker cavity. Brown-headed Nuthatches are social birds and constantly chatter – squeaking – as they hunt for food.

Florida’s other two nuthatches are similar in their behavior, but different in their habitats. The White-breasted Nuthatch nests and hunts primarily in hardwood trees in north Florida and elsewhere in eastern North America. The Red-breasted Nuthatch, is a winter visitor to north Florida from boreal forests far to the north.