Notes From The Field

Caesar Creek State Park/ Nature Center

We all have our favorite birds we enjoy spotting time after time, and I’m no exception. Mine include Cape May Warbler, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, and Swallow-tailed Kite. Well I’ve added a new one to this select group, the Red-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta canadensis).

This intense bundle of energy was one of my nemesis birds for the longest time, and since then I’ve not gotten over what a great bird this is. In South-western Ohio the White-breasted Nuthatch is our year round resident, however when Autumn returns to the Ohio Valley that’s when our buddies from the great white north come south for the Winter.

The physical differences between a “Red-Nut” and a “White-Nut” are size (4.3″ RBNU/ 5.1-5.5″ WBNU), and coloration is self explanatory. But the one thing I love about them is the “toy-horn” quality of it’s call. It reminds me of the little horn you’d attach to the handlebars of a child’s tricycle. So very distinct for it’s white-breasted cousin.

With 2 days in a row free to go birding I wanted to return to the Nature Center at Caesar Creek where Jon and I located all of the RBNU on our last visit. This time my objective was to attempt to get some photographs of these birds.

The entrance road to the nature Center and the surrounding land encompasses several acres, and the highlight are all the tall conifers that produce a great canopy for birds like Kinglets, Pine Siskins, and Nuthatches.

I arrived about 9:30 in the morning and started to scan the tree tops which are loaded with cones, which attracts all sorts of birds, especially RBNU’s. What I was really trying to do was get a digiscoped picture of the “Red-Nuts” knowing that they don’t hold still long enough, so I brought my other camera hoping that it didn’t fail like the previous day when I was trying to get a picture of the LeConte’s Sparrow.

Dark-eyed Junco perched at the very top of this conifer tree. I’m still not getting the quality of picture I think my camera is capable of, but a nice picture none the less.

It was about 30 minutes after  arrived  that I started to here them call. That faint, toy like, call high up in some of the taller trees half way down the drive. I scanned with my spotting scope and there they were, about 6 of them actively feeding from the pine cones. Trying to get a digiscoped picture was next to impossible as they moved from tree to tree, or completely out of sight as they moved around to the far side of the tree away from me.

For the next 2 hours I would move from one location to another in a attempt to get any kind of picture. All the while I would continue to bird this area as some very cool birds showed. Spotted a Brown Creeper as it whirled around the trunk of a Evergreen. A distress call from a bird flying overhead showed a Jay sized bird being chased by a Merlin. I was so focused on the Merlin I didn’t even bother to ID the one being chased. Dinner Time.

The gravel drive forms a circle as you near the Nature Center, and in the middle of this circle are picnic tables. RBNU were busy feeding close to the ground in this area and not wanting to pass up this photographic opportunity I was able to finally get a decent picture.

This one at the base of the tree moved off the tree and onto the ground as it foraged through the the spent pine needles. As it got closer I was finally able to get this shot.

You gotta admit this is one cute little bird. As there time here is limited to just a few months try to locate a nice stand of conifers, and more than likely you to will see one of my favorite birds.

Notable birds for the day include:

  1. White-breasted Nuthatch
  2. Red-breasted Nuthatch
  3. Red-shouldered Hawk
  4. Merlin
  5. Blue Jay
  6. Dark-eyed Junco
  7. Eastern Towhee
  8. Northern Cardinal
  9. Carolina Chickadee
  10. Tufted Titmouse
  11. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  12. Pileated Woodpecker
  13. Downy Woodpecker
  14. Common Crow
  15. Turkey Vulture
  16. White-throated Sparrow
  17. American Robin
  18. Golden-crowned Kinglet
  19. Ruby-crowned Kinglet
  20. Brown Creeper
  21. Pine Siskin
  22. House Finch
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6 responses to “Notes From The Field

  1. Nice photos. This bird will always have a good memory for me because of the Great Rednut chase at Zoar Acres.

  2. It’s funny how up here in Ottawa, we take the Red-breasted Nuthatches for granted. While they aren’t as abundant as chickadees, they will follow you around with the chickadees if you bring food for them!

    One of my favourite birds is the Indigo Bunting. I just love seeing the bright blue males. When I stumbled upon a group of females/immatures this summer, I didn’t even recognize them as Indigo Buntings!

  3. Nice pictures of this quick little nuthatch. One quick suggestion, if you want a more reliable camera: try an old, cheap DSLR like the Canon 20D (which I have; it is a decent camera) or the Nikon D40. Both can be had for only around $200 used and have good image quality and auto focus capabilities. After that, a basic telephoto zoom will work until you want a longer focal length and better sharpness. Just my 2 cents.

    • You know Wyatt it’s probably the jerk behind the camera not the camera. Like the saying goes, “A poor musician will always blame his instrument”.

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