The Story of the Nuthatch

by Peter
(San Fransciso area)

Thanks for all the work you did on this website. Obviously, you're a person with heart. Birds, as I'm sure your well aware, need such champions. Increasingly, their environment is getting stressed.

I live in the SF Bay Area---green (now) Marin Co. Lots of open space and woodsy hills and lakes, over 50 per cent of county protected. Still, a lot of the birds I used to see and hear even 10 years ago I don't anymore.

That's a big reason to help.

The other day something scared a pygmy nuthatch and it crashed into my window. I heard the thump and went out on my deck and saw it on its back, helpless, fluttering madly trying to right itself. It couldn't, completely disoriented. I picked it up and held it upright in my cupped hand, calming its frenzy, though its toes were curled under its body in a weird way. Then with my index finger I did tiny bird bodywork---periodically stroking gently from top of head to tail. At first it just sat there dazed, beak agape. I thought: "This bird might not make it."

I felt the bird's incredible warmth---the 105 degrees you mention---now imperceptibly draining. The morning was cold, frosty. I thought: "If this nuthatch is going to rally, it has to be soon. Every couple of minutes, it would seem to revive a little, turning it's head, looking up at the other nuthatches flocking to the hanging feeder, etc. Then again, it would fall back into a stupor. The nuthatch was really on the brink, fighting for its life.

A chickadee saw what I was doing, trying to help, and flew past my left shoulder as sat there cross-legged, holding the nuthatch. A chickadee commiserating?...Maybe, who knows?...Investigating, certainly!...

Finally after 15 minutes, the nuthatch turned its head sideways to look up briefly with one eye up at my huge human face staring down. I talked soft words.
Maybe they helped. After another couple of minutes, it suddenly burst from my palm to land on top of a deck chair, clinging upside down to a strip of plastic webbing. "Well, its toes are working." There it stayed, motionless, gathering strength. A couple of more minutes passed. Then in a flash, this tiny hero dove downward from its perch, did a one eighty and boomeranged back to rejoin its comrades in the leafless branches of a cherry plum tree. A haiku share, Susan----

Big cool air, small warm
dynamo, feathers' peeless cloak---
who, pray, holds patent?

---Peter H


A lovely story, Peter. Thank you for sharing.

Comments for The Story of the Nuthatch

Click here to add your own comments

May 17, 2011
Paper Bags do nicely
by: Jacki from Canada

If a bird hits your window and falls, put it in a dark place (like a paper bag) for awhile until it comes around. When it wakes up it won't be dis-orientated when it's in the dark. Then after a bit, just let it go.

Feb 17, 2011
Nuthatch nursing
by: Anonymous

What a great story and it was nice of you to nurse that bird. I have a HUGE front window, (12 feet wide by 7 feet tall) and I see this happen almost daily in really cold weather. I watch the birds lay on the ground lifeless but in 15 minutes they rise and fly off. I police them until they fly away.

great story

Jan 04, 2011
So sweet!
by: Hayley

That was very nice! I am happy you helped that birdie!

Click here to add your own comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Got A Great Bird Story?.

Coming Soon

Recent Articles

  1. Laura KP

    May 10, 17 08:29 PM

    We've lived in this house for 9 years, and the birds common in our wooded back yard (red pines and honeysuckle bushes) are: Northern Cardinals Black Capped

    Read More

  2. Senior Citizen

    May 10, 17 08:28 PM

    Saw a bird perched on my Sheppard hook just outside Beàver Dam, Wi. It was the size of a Blue Jay but didn't have the coloring of a Blue Jay, except for

    Read More

  3. Male Rose Breasted Grosbeak in Englewood, Florida

    May 10, 17 08:27 PM

    For the last three days, I have had a male rose breasted grosbeak at my feeders. I was quite surprised and pleased to see this unusual visitor; none of

    Read More