Red-breasted Nuthatches Visit Iowa - Iowa Wildlife Federation

Red-breasted Nuthatches Visit Iowa

Photography courtesy of Lowell Washburn, all rights reserved.


Winter bird feeding brings countless hours of pleasure to thousands of Iowans statewide. Observing our backyard visitors becomes even more interesting whenever a rare or unusual species makes a surprise appearance. The red-breasted nuthatch is a species currently filling that bill.

A resident of northern and western mountain pine forests, the red-breasted nuthatch is an energetic, miniature version of the more familiar white-breasted nuthatch. This year, the species is currently being sporadically reported at feeders across the state. While white-breasted nuthatches are common visitors to virtually every suet and sunflower feeder in the state, the tiny red-breasted is rarely, if ever, seen by most Iowans. Keep a sharp eye, and you may get your chance this winter. If one does happen to pay a visit to one of your backyard feeders, you’re likely to immediately spot the difference. In addition to its smaller size and hyper demeanor, the red-breasted’s black eye stripe, overall darker plumage, and rusty red breast make it readily distinguishable from its larger and more common cousin.




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