April 9, 2017
Guess who’s back?? Harry and Val Hatch (or, their lookalikes). I am so excited. Every morning they are very vocal, and they’ve chosen a different hole on the backside of the same tree as last year. Hopefully the squirrels will leave them alone this time as they try to start their family.
June 1, 2016
It’s been weeks since I’ve seen the Hatches around, and I fear they were kicked out of their nest, possibly before they even laid eggs. I think I saw remnants of their nest on the ground, so perhaps a squirrel got sick of sharing the tree with them.
It’s particularly sad because I read that nuthatches do not re-nest after a failure and do not have a second clutch. :(
Hope to see you again next spring, Harold and Val.
April 21, 2016
When I walked out our front door to grab the mail, Val landed on the squirrel’s body and began plucking tufts of fur from its body. She’s a boss.
April 20, 2016
This day was full of activity for our backyard birds and nuthatches. It seems as though the Hatches have relocated their nest to the other side of the tree – perhaps because of the pesky squirrel.
That must be Val since females generally build the nest. I didn’t expect her to swoop down a few feet away from me and have a staring contest, though.
Then I realized what she was on the ground for: finding fur to line her nest. Just so happens to come from a squirrel that perished a few weeks back that I was waiting for something natural (like a hawk) to pick it up, but now it seems to be useful for the nuthatches. I don’t think this was the same squirrel that terrorized the first nest, though. Oh, the circle of life.
April 3, 2016
The next day the Hatches were busy gathering materials for their nest.
April 2, 2016
We got our big picture window replaced this winter, and our cat loves to watch the birds through it by standing on the couch. Have I mentioned she also loves to move (read: scratch) our drapes?
Today, April 2, Norah was making a big fuss, her tail twitching as she looked up to a big tree in our front yard. I thought she was fixated on the falling snow, but it was a white-breasted nuthatch scaling the tree in all directions. Then, another flew and attached itself to the tree. It brought a gift in its mouth.
I soon realized that this was a pair building a nest in a hole of the tree, probably 15 feet up from the ground. It’s the tree I usually see squirrels chase each other in.
I’m happy to say our first “neighbirds” are Mr. Harold and Mrs. Valerie Hatch (Harry and Val, for short). And yes, I had to name them. Even if I can’t tell them apart yet.
The Hatches were having a productive day (as far as I could tell as I watched them from my couch) until a nosy intruder came by. At first I thought one of the birds was performing a mating display, because it perched at the edge of the hole, fanned out its feathers, puffed out its chest and slowly swung back and forth and nearly upside down.
Then I saw a squirrel’s head poke out from behind the hole and realized the bird was protecting its nest.
Still in its stance trying to appear large, the nuthatch flew lower on the tree and lured the squirrel back down to the ground. The two never touched, but the territorial message was clear. Or so I thought.
For a little while the weather cleared up, too. Bright sun and blue skies provided a nice backdrop for some of these photos.
But the wind picked up, the clouds moved in and snow showers (though almost melting upon impact with the ground) swept through the area. The curious squirrel also returned, and this time he even poked his head all the way into the hole.
For over an hour after the squirrel left I saw no sign of the Hatches. At first I thought they had decided to abandon this site because of the predators that could easily access the hole, but soon the flashes of dusty blue, white and black were back.
If everything works out, there could be some Hatch hatchlings in the next month or so. Norah will help keep an eye out for any activity, so check back for updates!