Birdfeeder Intimidator

The bird feeder mentioned, in an earlier post, continues to be a source of satisfaction and entertainment. A casual count includes more than 20 different species of birds visiting the feeder or the surrounding area. In addition to the feeder itself, there is a nyjer (thistle) seed sock for finches, suet feeders for woodpeckers, and blocks of freeze-dried mealworms for birds not attracted to seeds. These are arranged in a general feeding area so that different birds can select their preferences without competing for feeding space. Yet, this “feeding area” is all clearly visible from the front porch, providing excellent views of all feathered visitors.

Each species has its own manner and attitude about feeding. Many birds such as sparrows, cardinals, grosbeaks are content to share the feeder with others. Others demand, or at least try to have sole access to the feeder.

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The White-Breasted Nuthatch

One of my favorite birds to watch is the white-breasted nuthatch. It is a small gray bird with a large head, sharp pointed beak, white “cheeks” and a black cape. It is unique in that it is one of the few (if not the only) bird that can walk up, down, or around a tree with equal ease, always head first. Movements are quick as it searches for food, usually insects, in the bark of a tree. They also feed on seeds and nuts and enjoy suet feeders too.

The nuthatch that frequents our feeder seems to prefer to dine alone. He will often fly in so quickly that it startles other birds that fly away, at least long enough for the nuthatch to grab a morsel or two of food and fly off quickly.


The Nuthatch tries to intimidate a female Grosbeak, who is not impressed nor intimidated.

Not all birds react to the nuthatch’s arrival. In that case, the nuthatch will hop around on the top of the feeder, then walk down and around the sides trying coax stubborn birds away by spreading his wings in a threatening manner. At least one species, the rose-breasted grosbeak, is not at all intimidated by the nuthatch’s antics.

For comparison, the male Rose-Breasted Grosbeak is shown below.

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Male Rose-Breasted Grosbeak in a tree, waiting his turn at the feeder.

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