I have always been fascinated by Pygmy Nuthatches. When I was living in the Bozeman area, I rarely got to see the,, and as soon as I moved to Missoula, I have been seeing unreal numbers. They seems to be in each and every ponderosa pine, picking at the branch-tip cones. Like a circus act, they hang upside down and walk along the thinnest branches and needles. Their high-pitched calls pierce through the thickest stands.
Frenetic is the word most often used to describe the Pygmy Nuthatch, and it is indeed apt. They seem to be in constant motion, so you can imagine the difficulties that present the photographer. A small bird that feeds normally high in the canopy and it never slows down.
This winter season, I have observe the Pygmy Nuthatch foraging in the company of its cousins, the Red-breasted and White-breasted Nuthatches, along with Black-capped and Mountain Chickadees. Even in several occasions, Golden-crowned Kinglets joined the buffet.
Even with all of these frenzy of motion, the Pygmy Nuthatch lives within an incredible social framework. During these winter months, you will see the nuthatches traveling through the ponderosa pine forest in large groups that exhibit a high level of cohesion. Once they entered into breeding season, a breeding pair will typically have several helpers. These helpers are thought to offspring from the previous year. Outside of the breeding season, Pygmy Nuthatches communally roost in a cavity, and these jars (the collective term for nuthatches) of nuthatches can number up to 100 individuals. in fact, a lone Pygmy Nuthatch has never been reported to be roosting alone. Now that is what I call a social creature.