Excerpts from Jim Conrad's
from the the July 26, 2009 Newsletter, describing a backpacking trip on the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail in Red Buttes Wilderness Area, Siskiyou County, California:
AN INQUISITIVE RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH
On our second night we camped at 5600-ft-high (1700 m) Kangaroo Springs, a broad, wildflower-graced meadow with several tiny ponds and edged with very gnarly, picturesque pines. During the day sunlight bathed the meadow with the stinging intensity experienced only at higher elevations. In late afternoon birds of several species moved onto the meadow as the high ridge to our west extended it chilling shadow eastward. One little family of birds who'd been among the surrounding pines all along now became much more active and curious about our presence. You can see one of them above.
That's a Red-breasted Nuthatch, SITTA CANADENSIS, only an overwintering visitor in most of the US East and central states, but a permanent resident in most of the West, and a summer visitor in adjacent Canada.
Yank-yank-yank the bird called rather monotonously, and with a more nasal quality that the White-breasted Nuthatch, which often is more common. Red-breasted Nuthatches are smaller than White-breasteds (four inches long instead of five), plus you can see that Red-breasteds have a white eye-stripe, while White-breasted's don't. In general White-breasteds prefer deciduous woods while Red-breasteds prefer conifers.