Birds of Nebraska: Newspaper Accounts, 1854-1923

Editor [possibly Miles Greenleaf]. January 23, 1916. An Upside-Down Bird [Nuthatches]. Omaha Sunday World-Herald 51(17): 4-E. A bird editorial.

An Upside-Down Bird.

Human beings who successfully combat the frigidity of winter and the torrid sweatfulness of summer are probably inclined to regard with approval the smaller creatures who prove themselves equally hardy. Perhaps this is the reason for the popularity of the nuthatch family of the bird kingdom.

Although not as well known as the chickadee, this busy fellow in slate-gray and black, with his white or reddish vest, as the case may be, is a constant delight in the woods hereabout and is especially a welcome companion in the winter, when his summer companions of tenderer stuff have betaken themselves to Central America.

If you are fortunate enough and sensible enough to be able to take a little stroll today through the woods or parks, keep one eye open for a topsy-turvy, upside-down creature who starts at the top of a tree and works down the trunk, head toward the earth, diligently prying up pieces of bark to feast upon the insect eggs beneath. When he has finished with one tree he will fly to the top of another and repeat his researches.

There are two families of nuthatches in these parts, the white-breasted and the red-breasted, but the former are the most common and the surest to be seen.

The white-breast is almost as sociable as the chickadee and will hop along a fallen tree trunk, ostensibly looking for grub, but really to size you up, and will often venture nearly to an arm's length of you. He has a peculiar little "yank-yank" call, delivered in a raucous, bronchial sort of tone, and is one of the busiest of birds.

After you have located one of these beautiful fellows, which should be easy in the woods, notice that he eats only part of his loot and flies away with the rest. For the nuthatch keeps a plenteous larder throughout his kingdom, cacheing large quantities of food underneath bits of bark on big trees and invariably returning anon for the same, as claimed by expert ornithologists.

After you have watched Mr. Nuthatch this winter, go back to the same spot in the summer and he will still be there—or another member of his clan.

He is a mighty rational birdlet for one that is always standing on his head.