Wednesday, 19 October 2016

White-breasted Nuthatch (Sittelle à poitrine blanche) feeds from the hand

19 October 2016

     Today was as classic a fall day in southern Ontario as one could imagine and Miriam and I decided to take advantage of it and go for a walk along the Mill Race Trail in St. Jacobs, one of our favourite walks in the area.
     It was pleasantly warm and the colours were breathtaking.

     In addition, Miriam has a new Nikon Coolpix B700 camera and she wanted to get some practice shooting with it, before our upcoming vacation in Cuba.
     I don't think we will ever totally grow up, at least I hope not - perhaps we can remain children with wrinkles! Black-capped Chickadees Poecile atricapillus will readily accept seeds from the hand; in fact along well worn trails such as this one they have come to associate walkers with food and are quick to surround you as soon as you enter their territory

      For children this is a magical experience indeed, but for adults hardly less so, I suspect. I know that it's true for me and today, when offered some seed by a kind fellow trail walker, I could not resist.
     White-breasted Nuthatches Sitella carolinensis often keep company with chickadees, especially at this time of the year when they are both looking for food to cache away for the harsh months ahead. 

     In all the years that I have hand-fed chickadees I have never had a White-breasted Nuthatch land on my hand, nor even attempt to do so. Imagine my surprise and delight, therefore, when this individual landed on my hand to get its share of seed.

     Not only did it fearlessly alight on my hand, it made no attempt to snag a seed and leave quickly. It moved around on my palm and sorted through the seeds until it found the choicest item being offered. If an impudent chickadee attempted to horn in, it was summarily driven off.

      Not only that, the nuthatch flew away to hide its prize and then returned to my hand for more.
      It was a remarkable encounter indeed, filled with pleasure. Any time I can have intimate contact with a wild creature I cherish it, and this experience was supremely memorable.
      Thanks to Miriam for the pictures. If this is what she can get on the first day using the camera, when she is not yet familiar with all the settings, we can look forward to good things to come.  


  1. Remarkable experience! And Miriam got some great pictures!

  2. Awesome photos of the pretty birds. I love the autumn colours against the blue sky.

  3. Hi David

    Beautiful fall colors.
    What fun the bird that eats out of hand.

    Groettie from Patricia.

  4. WOW. The autumn colors are really beautiful. Domestic Nuthatch.

  5. Wow I am so jealous, what a great experience. The only time this has happened to me was when we visited Biscarross on the West coast, the sparrows would come into the dining room and take food from your hand.
    Just love those autumn colours Diane

  6. Beautiful post, David. And beautiful pictures too, the close ups are very good.
    But most of all I love the colors of fall in the first three pictures. Gr Jan W

  7. Autumn here too and we get very similar species feeding in the hand too.............

  8. Hi Both, What wonderful autumnal colors of fall. I had a similar experience with a Robin last Winter, I agree with you its a magical feeling that this little bird has faith in you that you will not harm it. Why should we ever grow up, just enjoy it. Miriam you have really got some superb images for the first time out. When I changed cameras, I sat in the hide at Rutland with the instruction book and still had awful images. Great post. Regards to you both. John

  9. Hi David,
    I always saw the birds in the hands of people in Canada. How is this possible ?
    Beautiful birs David !

    1. This all proves, Nathalie, that you have to come to Canada to see the colony of Northern Gannets in Gaspésie and to have birds feed from your hand right here in Ontario!

  10. Wow!!! Excelentes fotos, el otoño es mi estación favorita para disfrutar de la naturaleza. Me ha gustado mucho este post, un fuerte abrazo desde España.

  11. Our Velvet - fronted Nuthatches can be confiding, but not like this !

  12. AHA!!!
    Now this is the way I appreciate a bird "in hand"!!!!!
    I had similar experiences when I was a kid "without rinkles"!
    I must say nothing matches the emotion!
    A very enjoyable post, abrazos to share with Miriam :)

  13. Beautiful series of photographs David.
    Perfect photographed, colors and sharpness are perfect.
    So great that the birds eat out of hand, it seems great to experience that once.
    Best regards, Irma

  14. You're having a very colourful autumn David. We have yet to see much colour or even falling leaves as the weather has stayed so mild. Our equivalent to hand feeding chickadees would be our own Nuthatch, Robin and perhaps an odd Blackbird or two but it certainly not a common occurence.

    Off to Central America again and new cameras? How the other half live.

    1. Ah, we're just slumming in Cuba, while you're hiding from the paparazzi in Greece!

  15. Such wonderful colours in your photo's.
    So lovely to see the bird in hand too.

    All the best Jan

  16. Wonderful autumn colours and such cute little birds - great photos!

  17. What beautiful colors.. Autumn is so nice.. Happy Sunday..

  18. A bird taking food from the hand is one of life's great experiences in my book, David. It's just such a shame that, here in UK, it's such a rare experience. I guess we have our historic (and sometimes not so historic) abuse of birds to blame.

    Miriam's new camera seems to be working a treat - but I've no doubt that the skill of the operator is a major factor! Those autumn colours are wonderful. Ours seem to be a bit half-hearted this year (last year was superb). The leaves here are starting to fall now - already had to sweep them up in the garden.

    Love to you both - - - Richard

  19. Hi David,
    these wonderful birds on your hand are gorgeous !
    Have a great Sunday, David.
    Besyt, Synnöve

  20. Beautiful colors conjures autumn.
    Beautiful series David.
    Greetings Tinie

  21. Hello David, what colors those trees have it looks like as if they are on fire. And what joy to have those birds come and eat out of your hand. I wish you a wonderful stay in Cuba as I read that you are going there. Enjoy!