Disappearance of the nuthatch couple
Outdoor Ontario

Disappearance of the nuthatch couple

Ally · 5 · 1563

Ally

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Hey everyone, I would like to share my concern about my nuthatches. I have a couple of of Red-breasted nuthatches coming to take sunflower seeds from my feeder all the time. And I noticed that they started to work in one of the small cavities in the dead tree behind my neighour's house, facing me. They would come take some seed to eat and then going back to work on the excavation, and defend their hole from other small to medium size birds who come too close. About two weeks ago, I noticed there was long dry grass hanging outside of the hole, like 1 metre long, must be what they use for inside. But I have not seen them since. They did not come to take seeds at all. Do you think something got them or did they move? There are squirrels, European starlings, Blue Jays, occasionally crows and other woodpeckers would go to that tree. And right above that hole on the opposite side of the trunk, it was the nest hole of Northern Flickers. So any idea what happened to them? Or maybe they moved to somewhere quiet to raise their young?(hopefully)
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 pm by Guest »


Shortsighted

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Ally, I would not be too alarmed by the sudden disappearance of your neigbourhood RB nuthatches.
I haven't seen one in a while either but that may have been because of something I said about
this species while one was visiting my feeder. They have good hearing. Anyway, the work done on your
neighbour's tree may have been a nuthatch trying to feed on a large seed, or bolus. It needs to
embed it into a tree crevice to secure it while it hacks away, much as I use a sheet of thick
plexiglass to support my aging laptop while I hack away at the keyboard like a pecker-head with
two hammer-worthy beaks. An emancipated male RB nuthatches might even begin to excavate a hole in a tree
as if building a nest just to attract a female. House work performed by males is the new aphrodisiac.
They tend to excavate wood that offers less resistance such as the dry wood of a dead tree,
or the dead part of a vital tree. A clever nuthatch is not likely going to risk a headache trying to
excavate a virile hardwood tree trunk. They tend to start where there is already a defect and just
enlarge it to an impressive depth of half a foot. Your particular RB nuthatches may have gone in search of a more
compliant nesting site and restructured their diet toward protein from insects, now that it is plentiful. Don't
take their departure personally, you still have those swarms of adoring mosquitos that so admire you and
follow you around like disciples.
« Last Edit: June 17, 2019, 05:14:26 pm by Shortsighted »


Ally

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Quote from: "Shortsighted"
Ally, I would not be too alarmed by the sudden disappearance of your neigbourhood RB nuthatches.
I haven't seen one in a while either but that may have been because of something I said about
this species while one was visiting my feeder. They have good hearing. Anyway, the work done on your
neighbour's tree may have been a nuthatch trying to feed on a large seed, or bolus. It needs to
embed it into a tree crevice to secure it while it hacks away, much as I use a sheet of thick
plexiglass to support my aging laptop while I hack away at the keyboard like a pecker-head with
two hammer-worthy beaks. An emancipated male RB nuthatches might even begin to excavate a hole in a tree
as if building a nest just to attract a female. House work performed by males is the new aphrodisiac.
They tend to excavate wood that offers less resistance such as the dry wood of a dead tree,
or the dead part of a vital tree. A clever nuthatch is not likely going to risk a headache trying to
excavate a virile hardwood tree trunk. They tend to start where there is already a defect and just
enlarge it to an impressive depth of half a foot. Your particular RB nuthatches may have gone in search of a more
compliant nesting site and restructured their diet toward protein from insects, now that it is plentiful. Don't
take their departure personally, you still have those swarms of adoring mosquitoes that so admire you and
follow you around like disciples.

The hole was bigger than the type you describe to secure the seed, big enough for the nuthatch to go inside, so he was definitely excavating, because I see him coming out to spit the debris many times. And they are one couple, so I don't think it was a bachelor trying to see attention either. Hope they moved somewhere to feed on insects. The odds of both of them being killed are pretty low, right? When I saw them working on that cavity, it raised my hope to see babies. Now gone! :cry:
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 pm by Guest »


Shortsighted

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Are you certain that the excavation is not occupied and that you may just not have been
present to witness coming and going. Then again, being shacked-up they may have
no reason to leave. Was the tree ever rocking? Even if the hollow is unoccupied it
may be used by some other species. Put up a vacancy sign. There may have been
some reason that the excavation was simply not up to code. If it is a vital tree then
the excavation may have been too difficult to manage. You could measure the depth
of the cavity and see if it is deep enough to have proved suitable for a nesting site.
If it is way too shallow then the work was stopped to find something easier. A House
Wren might use the cavity. You could design a trip-device near the orifice and see if
anything enters and trips it. That's the cheap way to do it. A motion-cam is the
expensive way to surveil the premises. Can it be I'm over-thinking this?
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 pm by Guest »


Ally

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I start to suspect the European Starlings have somehing to do with it. Just now I saw the Flicker Dad preening before he entered his home(babies inside). While he was still.inside, a starling went to that hole. I couldn't see exactly since it was facing the other side. The flicker Dad gave him a good chase.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 pm by Guest »