Success of pretty nuthatch
I REMEMBER spotting my first nuthatch, it was on the window feeder in our office about five years ago.
At first it was a flash of pale blue and then it returned and I got a really great view of this beautiful bird.
Since then I have seen many nuthatches on reserves belonging to the Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside.
There are definitely more nuthatches appearing on woodland and garden feeding areas.
This is hardly surprising as our local Bird Atlas says: “The expansion of the nuthatch’s range since the early 1980s in Lancashire, as in most regions of lowland Britain, is one of the recent success stories of our birds.”
The total British population increased by 232 per cent during 1970 to 2010 with more than 5,000 birds now living in the region. Nuthatches like woodland but they are now being seen in less-wooded coastal areas.
About the size of a great tit, the nuthatch has a short tail, large head and a bill like a woodpecker. Nuthatches climb up and down tree trunks in mature woods and parks, feeding on insects and nuts and seeds, such as hazelnuts and beechmast.
They nest in holes in trees or abandoned nests, but are happy to use nestboxes too – which is very exciting. They start breeding in April and can produce two clutches of up to 13 eggs at a time.
They are wonderfully pretty birds with a blue-grey top half, white cheeks and throat and a rusty belly. A black strip across their eyes gives them a distinctive facial appearance and they have a black bill.
The fact that a nuthatch will remain close to where it was hatched means that if you spot one it will probably return to the same spot over and over again – long lenses at the ready. And you should be able to hear one before you see it. The nuthatch has a wide variety of songs. The most common calls are a ‘twip, twip, twip, twip’ a sound similar to someone using a keyboard or a more shrill ‘preep, preep, preep’ song that should be recognisable in woodland.
This range of calls is evidence that nuthatches use them for different purposes like mating calls and alarm calls. It appears to be clever as well as good looking.
Nuthatches spend a long time gathering food to store for harsher times.
Don’t be surprised if your own garden visitor uses crevices in your walls to store seeds and nuts for when the weather turns nasty.
Some birds have been known to store food for up to a month before returning to eat it. During spring, summer and autumn they usually feed on live prey, like insects.
So keep an eye out for these beautiful birds in your garden or when you are out walking. Their return is more proof that the work we all do on habitats and environment is working and our wildlife is returning as a result.
To support the work of the Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside. Text WILD09 with the amount you want to donate to 70070. To become a member of the Trust go to the website at www.lancswt.org.uk or call 01772 324129. For more information about Cheshire Wildlife Trust call 01948 820728 or go to cheshirewildlifetrust. org.uk.