Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Common and Uncommon Nuthatch

The Common and Uncommon Nuthatch

The White-breasted Nuthatch is a fairly common bird. It has ordinary coloring – black and gray with white underparts – and is small, about the size of a sparrow. It frequents woodlands and deciduous forests like the Black-capped Chickadee. It makes its nest in tree hollows like the woodpecker and, also like the woodpecker, has an undulating flying pattern. It eats insects and seeds (particularly sunflower seeds) like so many other birds. So what makes this bird unique? 

It’s an upside-down creature most of the time while other birds have more of a rightside-up personality. The Nuthatch is the only bird that regularly starts at the top of the tree (or birdfeeder) and works its way down as it seeks its food. There is an advantage to going downward; the bird is able to see food overlooked by the usual upward direction of other birds.

And that is what speaks to me. What causes this one bird, who is like other birds in lots of ways, to do something different when it would be so easy to do what the rest of the bird world does?

It is intriguing to see what the natural world offers as mirrors. This simple example makes me think of us, the human species, and how we have so many commonalities – in culture, in peer groups, in professions, in fashions, etc. – that make it almost inevitable that we be the same. Like the Nuthatch, however, we may have to deviate from the usual to find what nourishes us, what distinguishes us as individuals. And it is that something that helps us to express our true, particular nature within the broader spectrum of humanity.

Here is a general introduction to the Nuthatch and for more specific information about the White-breasted Nuthatch, click on the link at the left.

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