Saturday, November 5, 2016

Pic of the Day

White-breasted Nuthatch, Sitta carolinensis:
Horse Cove; near Gurley, Alabama
     The White-breasted Nuthatch is a constant visitor at my bark butter feeder here in North Alabama, and is perhaps the most abundant nuthatch in North America.  J. J. Audubon, on the other hand, thought it to be less common that the other species.  Below is an excerpt from Audubon's Natural history of the Birds of America.

White-breasted Nuthatch: J.J. Audubon
"Birds of America"
"Although the species now under consideration is found in all parts of our extensive country, it is yet the least numerous; there being to appearance more than three of the Brown-headed, and two of the Red-bellied, for every one of the White-breasted. It is an inhabitant of the forest and the orchard, frequently approaching to the very doors of the farm-houses during winter, when it is not unusually seen tapping at the eaves beneath the roof, thrusting itself into barns and houses, or searching for food among the poultry on the ground, where it moves prettily by short hops. During summer it gives a preference to the interior of the forest, and lives in a retired and secluded manner, especially during the breeding season. Although a lively bird, its actions are less animated, and it exhibits less petulance and restlessness than the other species. It moves alertly, however, when searching for food, climbing or retrograding downwards or sidewise, with cheerfulness and a degree of liveliness, which distinguish it at once from other birds. Now and then it has a quaint look, if I may so speak, while watching the observer, clinging to the bark head downward, and perhaps only a few feet distant from him whom it well knows to be its enemy, or at least not its friend, for many farmers, not distinguishing between it and the Sap-sucker, (Picus pubescens,) shoot at it, as if assured that they are doing a commendable action."  J. J. Audubon

White-breasted Nuthatch (L) and Brown-headed
Nuthatch (R), by Mark Catesby, "A Natural History
of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands"

      Audubon was not the first naturalist to describe, or paint the White-breasted Nuthatch.  Mark Catesby, an English naturalist published "A Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands," complete with paintings and descriptions of 110 species of birds, with additional paintings of animals, and plants.  Volume one was published in 1731, and volume two in 1743. The White-breasted Nuthatch was among those species of birds described.            

Photo:  Nikon D800, Nikkor 500mm f/4, 1/60 Second @ f/8

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