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Rawr! I Scary Birdie!

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen 

Here is a stylized picture of the White-Breasted Nuthatch that I (hopefully) rescued a few weeks ago. He* was being harassed by another of his kind, and when trying to fly away, smacked into the plate glass window on our porch. I was oh so careful picking him up and setting him on the grass below.

These woodpecker cousins are so cute. It was extremely difficult for me to picture these 6.1 inch (15.5 cm. for those who do millimetrics) delicate birds trying to be big and bad.

My Nuthatch photo modified with FotoSketcher
When one is on the patio floor looking for suet crumbs, seeds, and nuts, he moves in short bursts. I took to calling him Scooter. My wife told me that I had just missed the thing she had told me about. A few seconds later, I saw it.

Scooter didn't want to share the seeds on the floor with a catbird, so he spread his wings and rocked slightly back and forth. When my wife first told me about this action, he was trying to intimidate a much larger Blue Jay. She said the Jay looked at him as if to say, "What's your problem?"

Speaking of Blue Jays, they often get into scraps with their own kinds. Like other birds, we saw one act like other birds and look puffed up. Also, his crest was raised as if it was a battle standard. Birds, cats, other critters try to look bigger than they are. Trickery! Actually, I think that is part of the way they were designed.

In this extremely short video, my hands were shaking from adrenaline (they're none to steady anyway), and I was holding the camera with the video in one hand before I picked up the bird with the other. Glad I can be so gentle. Look closely, his beak was open for defensive purposes, but he didn't try to fight.

* It is difficult to tell the male and female of several kinds of birds apart. The expensive word is sexual dimorphism. Male Pileated Woodpeckers have a red mustache, male Blue Jays are slightly larger than females (the presence of juveniles can throw this off), and the male White-Breasted Nuthatch has a black cap while the missus has a gray cap. We know about cattle, deer, lions and such with their tell-tale indicators — except when they don't work or are reversed. Yes, it happens.