Friday, August 13, 2010

Pic of the Day

Brown Creeper: Horsecove, Alabama

Brown Headed Nuthatch: Guntersville State Park, Guntersville, Alabama
     Creepers and Nuthatches:  Birds of a Feather? Not quite, but similar. Creepers and nuthatches are interesting birds. Though they are of different families, they live similar life styles. Both creepers and nuthatches feed on insects that live and hide in cracks and crevices of tree bark. Both species climb tree trunks and search crevices within the bark, and pry back loose bark to gather insects. But how they do it, is what’s interesting.
Creepers start at the bottom of a tree and circle the tree as it climbs upward. It slender curved beak probes into cracks, crevices and under loose bark searching for its prey. It can even use its beak to pry back loose bark like that of a pine or scaly bark hickory. After the creeper has reached the top of the tree, it flies down to the base of the next tree and repeats the process. The creeper climbs from the bottom to the top of the tree.
Nuthatches have a short stout bill. While they too probe cracks and crevices, their stronger bill is more suited for prying back loose bark to reach hidden insects. However, the nuthatch starts at the top of the tree and winds around the tree downward and head first. Upside-down from our perspective. Once the nuthatch has reached the bottom of the tree, it flies to the top of the next tree and begins the process all over.
So, when you are out birding and you see a small bird winding around a tree moving from bottom to top it is most likely a creeper. An in North America it would be the Brown Creeper. When you see a small bird winding around a tree, upside down and moving down the tree from top to bottom, you know it is a nuthatch. In North America it could be one or a combination of possible nuthatches that include the: White-breasted, Red-breasted, Brown-headed and Pygmy nuthatch.
The Brown Creeper shown here was photographed at my home in North Alabama and the Brown-headed Nuthatch was photographed at Guntersville State Park, just east of Guntersville, Alabama.
Brown Creeper photographed with a: Nikon F4, Nikkor 500mm f/4, Kodachrome 64
Brown Headed Nuthatch photographed with a: Nikon F4, Nikkor 500mm f/4, Kodachrome 64

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