Wild Birds Unlimited Newsletter
For those passionate about birding and nature
Nature News

- Bird Of The Month -

White-breasted Nuthatch




Scientific name: Sitta carolinensis 


How to identify: White-breasted Nuthatches are gray-blue on the back, with a frosty white face and underparts. The black or gray cap and neck frame the face and make it look like this bird is wearing a hood. The lower belly and under the tail are often chestnut. The largest nuthatch, this is still a small bird with a large head and almost no neck. The tail is very short, and the long, narrow bill is straight or slightly upturned.


Habitat:  Nuthatches are birds of mature woods and woodland edges. They're particularly associated with deciduous stands, including maple, hickory, basswood, and oak, though they can be found in some coniferous forests.


Where to find one: White-breasted Nuthatches are agile birds that creep along trunks and large branches, probing into bark furrows with their straight, pointed bills. Like other nuthatches, they often turn sideways and upside down on vertical surfaces as they forage. They don't lean against their tails the way woodpeckers do.


How to attract one to your yard:  Nuthatches are common feeder birds. You can attract them by offering large nuts such as sunflower and peanuts, and by putting out suet.


Interesting fact:  If you see a White-breasted Nuthatch making lots of quick trips to and from your feeder - too many for it to be eating them all - it may be storing the seeds for later in the winter, by wedging them into furrows in the bark of nearby trees.


For more information on the White-breasted Nuthatch, visit one of the three Moana Nursery store locations:  1100 W. Moana Ln. & 11301 S. Virginia St., Reno and 7644 Pyramid Hwy., Sparks. 


Carmel Ruiz-Hilton is Manager of Wild Birds Unlimited Nature Shops at Moana Nursery in Reno/Sparks



Go to the WBU site for more Bird of the Month newsletters & articles. 


August is for Molting (and protein)!



Just as people make seasonal wardrobe changes, many birds are beginning a transformation of their own, losing and replacing their feathers in a process known as molting. 


Molting is when a bird replaces some (partial molt) or all (full molt) of its feathers.


This complicated process requires a lot of energy and may take up to eight weeks to complete. Molting is so physically demanding for most ducks and geese that they can't fly and will molt in seclusion to avoid predators. 


Molting season varies by species and time of year. Right now many birds are beginning their main molt of the year, however, American Goldfinches are one of the last to molt. Due to their late nesting period, they won't start their molt until late August. 


Distinguishing birds that are molting from those that are not can be difficult. Though some birds may lose patches of feathers and apChanging of the Garb pear "balding," most birds' feather loss and replacement are far less noticeable. 


Feathers are made of more than 90% protein, primarily keratins, so every molting bird needs extra proteins to grow strong feathers for proper flight and effective insulation.

These foods include:

  • Nyjer
  • Birdacious Bark Butter
  • Mealworms
  • Seed Blends with Tree Nuts 
Check out all current sales and promotions on the Moana Nursery website

How Cool Is That?


Passing Jewels


Is the hummingbird activity ramping up in your yard? Hummingbirds have fledged their babies and some have even started their migration. They are active at feeders and flowers as well as sourcing protein from spiders and other insects. Keep your feeders full and clean to watch these little jewels. 






Flocks of Gold 


Have you seen any goldfinches chasing others while fluttering their wings and doing a double-call note that kind of sounds like "feed me?" American Goldfinches are one of our latest nesters and the young are chasing Dad harassing him for food. 


Naturally Hot Stuff!


Do birds really eat hot stuff in the wild? There are birds that eat wild pepper plant fruits as part of their natural diet: Curve-billed Thrasher, Northern Cardinal, Northern Mockingbird, Gila Woodpecker, Cedar Waxwing, Elegant Trogon, Great Kiskadee, Tropical Kingbird, Hepatic Tanager and Turkey. 

Wild pepper plants actually rely on birds to eat and disperse the seeds. If mammals, like coyotes, ate the fruits the seeds would be Naturally Hot Stuff crushed and therefore not grow. The birds get the benefit of eating the fruit while the seeds are dispersed to other locations for more plants to grow. 


The latest information from research about adding hot peppers to bird food shows no evidence of any negative impacts on birds. 


There are no problems with capsaicin harming or irritating the mouth, eyes or digestive tract of birds as their nerve receptors are unresponsive to capsaicin - birds can sense it, but it is not a painful stimulus to them.


Upcoming Events


Lahontan Audubon Society


Field Trip - Spooner Lake State Park

When:  Sat, August 15, 6:30am - 11:30am
Where:  Spooner Lake, Carson City, NV 89703

LAS Program Meeting
When: Tue, August 25, 6:30pm - 8:30pm
Where: Moana Nursery, 1100 West Moana Lane, Reno, NV 89509

Birds & Books Reading Group: The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History
When: Wed, August 26, 4pm - 6pm
Where: Sundance Bookstore & Music, 121 California Avenue, Reno, NV 89509

Field Trip - Sunset stroll & Chiroptera cruise along the Truckee River
When: Sat, August 29, 5:30pm - 8:00pm
Where: Rock Park, Reno, NV 89502

For more information on Lahontan activities, go to http://animalark.org/ 


Animal Ark


August 1 @ 4:30 pm - 6:00 pm

This is an invitation-only event for Members and Adoptive Parents! Bring a treat for your animal; talk to the animal keepers; and hear behind-the-scenes stories. Not yet a member of a sponsor? You are welcome to purchase either status at the door.

August 15 @ 7:30 pm - 10:00 pm

Wolves and coyotes howling and big cats growling in the night: it's Ark at Dark! Enjoy a guided flashlight tour and see our nocturnal predators in their element. THIS EVENT SELLS OUT FAST - Reservations required.


For more information on Animal Ark activities, go to http://animalark.org/ 

Nature Happenings
  • Watch for Common Nighthawks hunting flying insects over open ground in the late afternoon light.
  • Many of our summer visitors have finished their nesting cycle and will begin their migration south.
  • Male Black-headed Grosbeaks will disappear from the landscape as they begin their southern migration; females and juveniles will follow in the coming weeks.
  • Bullock's Orioles, our summer visitors that love to chatter notes high and low, will begin to migrate south.
  • Daylilies are in bloom.
  • Young loons learn to fly.
  • Yellow jackets make paper-like nests.
  • Hummingbirds are active at feeders and at flowers, sourcing protein from spiders and insects and sipping nectar for sugars.
  • Male hummingbirds start their southbound migration this month, averaging 20 miles a day to their wintering grounds in Central America and Mexico. Females head south later, with juveniles sticking around until early October.
  • Migration begins. Keep feeders full with fresh food for "stopover" migrants.
  • Pinon Jays, normally found exclusively in the pinon/juniper areas, gobble lots of seed at bird feeders.
  • Geese, ducks, cranes, etc. usually fly in 'V' formation. Theory is that all, but lead bird, gain lift from wing-tipped vortices produced by lead bird.
  • American Goldfinches finish nesting late this month.
Celebrating 10 years in Reno, NV! 
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Moana Nursery | 1100 W. Moana Lane | 11301 S. Virginia St. | 7655 Pyramid Hwy. | Reno/Sparks | NV | 89509