This white-breasted nuthatch simply rested atop our suet feeder for some minutes yesterday. I didn't see her eat; she just blinked once in a while. Despite temperatures in the low single digits above zero F., the sun was shining on her and she seemed to be soaking in what she could.
|Male white-breasted nuthatch|
|Male red-breasted nuthatch|
The large photo shows that WBNs do have some rusty coloring, similar to that of red-breasted nuthatches, on their lower bellies. But white-breasted and red-breasted nuthatches are easily distinguished not only by the location of that rusty color (the red-breasted, as its name implies, bearing it high up on the breast) but also by the black stripe that goes right through the eye on the red-breasted nuthatch, which is also the smaller of the two. (See the lower photo at left.) White-breasted nuthatches are year-round residents in much of the United States, whereas the conifer-favoring red-breasted nuthatch tends to be a winter-only visitor to much of the eastern U.S., including southern Minnesota.
I think until recently we have almost always seen the male WBN at our feeders, but last week we briefly saw that there was a pair there and yesterday the female was there on her own, and so I think and hope that she is starting to be more confident in visiting.