Birds of North Carolina:
their Distribution and Abundance
White-breasted Nuthatch - Sitta carolinensis
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General Comments The White-breasted Nuthatch breeds from coast to coast, but it is most common and widespread in the eastern half of the country. It is a characteristic bird of mature hardwood forests, both in wetlands and in uplands, but it can be found in pine forests. It is mostly nonmigratory, though some birds do move south in fall; it is somewhat more numerous in the state in winter than in summer. Though it has a statewide distribution, this nuthatch is scarce near the coast, and locally absent on many forested islands. Favored habitats are old-growth upland hardwood forests, even in residential areas, but it also occurs in swamps, bottomlands, mixed forests, and even in some longleaf pine stands. In winter, individuals typically join mixed-species flocks led by Tufted Titmice and Carolina Chickadees.
Breeding Status Breeder
NC BRC List Definitive
State Status
U.S. Status
State Rank S5B,S5N
Global Rank G5
Coastal Plain Permanent resident, with noticeable migratory movements. Uncommon to fairly common in the western and central sections as a breeder, and fairly common in winter; but rare to uncommon in the Tidewater zone and in coastal counties at all seasons (can be absent in some areas). However, it can be fairly common in the Dismal Swamp area. Essentially absent in coastal forests, though there are a few winter records. Peak counts:
Piedmont Permanent resident, with some migratory movements. Uncommon to fairly common across the province in the breeding season; generally fairly common in winter. Slightly more numerous in the western half of the province than in the eastern. Peak counts:
Mountains Permanent resident; migratory movements not obvious. Generally fairly common at low to mid-elevations, up to about 5,000 feet; scarce to 5,500 feet. Moves downward from higher elevations in winter. Peak counts:
Finding Tips Very widespread at all seasons; though nowhere really common, it should be seen in most days of birding in most parks across the state, except in the lower Coastal Plain. It often can be easier to find in such areas in winter, as many mixed-species flocks contain a pair of White-breasted Nuthatches.
Attribution LeGrand[2012-09-16], LeGrand[2011-12-11], LeGrand[2011-08-16]
NC Map
Map depicts all counties with a report (transient or resident) for the species.
Click on county for list of all known species.
NC Breeding Season Map
Map depicts assumed breeding season abundance for the species.