Sunday, June 14, 2009

Pygmy Nuthatches and Giant Pines

Pygmy NuthatchA Pygmy Nuthatch gets a drink in a stock tank, Sisters, Oregon on 27 May 2009 by Greg Gillson.


It's a good thing the already diminutive nuthatches are not capable of feeling sensitive about their small size. That's because some politician/scientist went and named this tiny denizen of the ponderosa pine forest a Pygmy Nuthatch! How insensitive! How redundant!

Constantly giving happy little piping contact notes, these birds band together in little flocks and crawl up and down and all over the immense old growth pondersoa trees. In fact, these birds and White-headed Woodpeckers are linked closely to the mature ponderosa pine forest.

The bird above was one of several near the bird feeders at our Best Western Ponderosa Lodge in Sisters, Oregon. This was a great place to explore the ponderosa forest. Feeder birds here included White-headed Woodpeckers, Pinyon Jays, and Cassin's Finches. I was there scouting for the June 5-7, 2009 Woodpecker Wonderland Bird Festival, where I was asked to be one of the field trip guides. I have more photos from the Festival to share in the coming weeks.

Pygmy Nuthatches are resident from southern British Columbia, south in Western mountains from Colorado to California, into western Mexico. They nest in old woodpecker holes.

If you happen to live in the ponderosa forest, then these birds will eat seeds from your backyard bird feeder, and nest in small nest boxes, such as those for chickadees. And don't forget about attracting them with water,... though you probably don't need as much as pictured above.


  1. This picture and description fits a bird I saw on my feeder today! But I live by a lake in Maple Valley, WA. Could this be correct? He's about the size of a chickadee, gray-ish, but more squatty. No mask. Light under-belly. Looks a lot like this pygmy, but it seems I'm out of range for where they would be?

    1. Red-breasted Nuthatch most-likely, White-breasted Nuthatch possible, Pygmy not likely in your area.