On one of my morning walks, I witnessed a home invasion.
It seems that a pair of violet-green swallows had selected a cozy oak tree cavity for their nest. They went in and out, but so did an acorn woodpecker, a starling, and and pair of white-breasted nuthatches. Since I’d frequently seen these swallows in the same tree the year before, I assumed that the tree cavity was theirs.
Not so fast. While this pair of swallows sat on a limb enjoying the morning sun, the nuthatches repeatedly entered the cavity and pulled out all the previous nesting material. After a day or so of this activity, and without any apparent objection on the part of the swallows, the nuthatches completely took over the nest site. They brought in the requisite tree fluff for a comfy nest, along with several chunks of tree bark, including one about 1 by 4 inches in size. I think the lady of the house was building a two story townhome.
The white-breasted nuthatch is a joy to watch as it moves quickly along tree branches, frequently hanging upside-down on the underside of a limb like a rock climber. A backward-facing toe allows them to scramble facing straight down, which they do adroitly, pausing along the way, head up and beak pointing outward.
Nuthatches love black oiled sunflower seeds. This I know from observing them empty my feeder. They don’t eat the seeds right away, however. They cache them in tree bark for winter nourishment when other food is scarce.