||In Season: Nuthatch in Tulip Tree
by Gary Pendleton
Nuthatches are different. Their shape is different: tapered and pointed at both ends. Their feeding habits are unusual: They creep along tree trunks and branches upside down as well as right side up, probing under cracks in the bark for insects. They also eat acorns and nuts, and at the feeder they will eat suet. The white-breasted nuthatch is the local year-round representative of the family, with the smaller red-breasted nuthatch an occasional winter visitor.
Here the white-breasted nuthatch is portrayed on the venerable tulip tree. Tulip trees are one of the dominant trees in Eastern hardwood forests. They grow very tall and have dome-shaped crowns. The shape of the leaves resemble tulip flowers in profile. They are also known as tulip poplar or yellow poplar, and at the lumber yard, its just plain poplar. But Liriodendron tulipifera is not a poplar at all. It is actually a member of the magnolia family.