Red-breasted Nuthatch

Since mid-December a Red-breasted Nuthatch with a straight bill about 2 ½ times the normal length has visited our feeders in Ripton. It takes black oil sunflower seeds regularly, making a half dozen trips daily to either of two feeders. We have not seen it open or cache the seeds. Nor have we seen it forage down nearby tree trunks like other nuthatches, although it may do so. Its health appears to be otherwise normal.

If you have seen a bird with a beak deformity you may report it, preferably with a photo showing the deformity, to a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service office in Alaska. Bill deformities in Black-capped Chickadees and several other common species have increased significantly there in the last decade. Biologists are investigating potential causes. Knowing the extent of bill deformities elsewhere in the country will assist them in their work. The link to their website is:


– Warren King