How To Attract Red-Breasted Nuthatches To Your Yard


Red-breasted nuthatches are small songbirds that typically measure between four and five inches in length. 

They have a distinct reddish-brown head, neck, and chest with a white belly and dark wings and tails. These birds are highly active, often hopping from branch to branch in search of food.

Red-breasted nuthatches often make their way into residential areas, especially in homes located in the northeastern and northern Great Lakes regions of North America. 

Want to attract red-breasted nuthatches to your yard? Follow these 10 tips.

1. Make Your Yard A Bug Haven

Red-breasted nuthatches are insectivores. They will eat a few other things, but their primary food source is insects. 

Skip insecticides, particularly ones made with harsh chemicals, and accept having a few bugs in your gardens.

Don’t worry too much about your garden becoming overrun with insects. The red-breasted nuthatches will help. They love ants, beetles, and caterpillars.

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2. Offer Red-Breasted Nuthatches A Winter Source Of Protein

Red-breasted nuthatches are typically year-round residents, but they can’t eat insects in the winter months. You can attract them to your yard by offering them a source of protein when bugs are scarce.

High-fat, high-calorie suet, mealworms, and peanut butter will do the trick. These are loaded with protein and the red-breasted nuthatches find them quite delicious. 

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Fill your winter feeders with any of the three food options mentioned above.

3. Red-Breasted Nuthatches Eat Seeds, Too

In the winter months, the diet of the red-breasted nuthatch switches from mostly insects to mostly seeds. You can help them out by keeping your winter bird feeders stocked with sunflower seeds and bird feeder mixes. 

In fact, red-breasted nuthatches only visit backyard bird feeders in the winter, when they are looking for an easy food source.

4. Plant Berry-Bearing Bushes And Vines

While red-breasted nuthatches will also eat berries, they are primarily attracted to berry bushes and vines because that’s where the insects hang out. 

Consider planting blueberries, blackberries, and elderberries. The birds will also love the shelter these plants provide.

5. Red-Breasted Nuthatches Are Attracted To Moving Water

Red-breasted nuthatches might pass over your bird feeders in the summertime, but they can’t resist flowing and spraying water. Like all birds, they need a source of fresh drinking water, but the red-breasted nuthatches also enjoy playing in the water.

Bird baths with fountains, yard misters, oscillating sprinklers, and garden sprayers will all entice red-breasted nuthatches to visit your garden. Even a shallow birdbath will give them a place to splash and play.

6. Give Them Plenty Of Places To Hide

The little red-breasted nuthatches are a tasty treat for predators like hawks and owls. Their only defense against these predators is hiding. 

Provide plenty of spots in your yard for red-breasted nuthatches to seek shelter and hide, and they will be more likely to think of your yard as a safe haven.

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Evergreen bushes, shrubs, and trees are a great choice because they provide year-round shelter for red-breasted nuthatches. Another option is dense bushes and shrubs with plenty of branches and foliage.

7. Don’t Remove Dead Trees

Red-breasted nuthatches are cavity nesters. They make their nests in hollow openings in trees, particularly dead trees. 

If you are too eager to remove dead trees from your property, you might be removing prime nesting spots for the red-breasted nuthatch.

8. Provide Birdhouses And Nesting Boxes

Red-breasted nuthatches will look for alternative nesting options if there are no dead trees in the area. 

You can help them stick around your yard by providing birdhouses and nesting boxes for them to use. These will give the nuthatch parents an enclosed place where they will feel safe to raise their hatchlings.

The ideal birdhouse for red-breasted nuthatches is a four-inch by four-inch square with a height of between eight and ten inches. The opening should be one-and-a-quarter inches in diameter. 

The birdhouse or nesting box should be securely mounted about five to 15 feet off the ground.

9. Give The Red-Breasted Nuthatches Nesting Materials

Make sure that the red-breasted nuthatches can find the nesting material they need in your yard by planting wispy ornamental grasses and down-bearing plants like milkweed and thistle.

After you brush your dog’s coat, leave the fur in a clump in your garden for the birds to use when making their nests.

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10. Try Attracting Other Birds

Red-breasted nuthatches are social birds that often go where other birds go. 

If you want to attract red-breasted nuthatches to your yard, you can start by attracting other birds, like chickadees, woodpeckers, and tits. You may discover that red-breasted nuthatches will tag along, too.


Attracting red-breasted nuthatches to your yard is a great way to bring more wildlife to your backyard. These birds are active and vocal, and they can help control insect pests in your garden. To attract red-breasted nuthatches, provide a variety of food sources, especially in the winter. Give the birds places to shelter in the form of dense shrubs and trees. Once you have done this, sit back and enjoy the red-breasted nuthatches in your backyard!

Get Our FREE Bird Feeder Cheat Sheet
Want more birds in your backyard? Get simple tips on attracting feathered friends and maximizing your bird feeding setup. Our free cheat sheet has got you covered!
Download The FREE Cheat Sheet

James Goodman

James is a native Texan with a love for birding and outdoor adventures. When he's not birdwatching, you can find him hiking, camping or playing the piano.

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