National Geographic : 1913 Jun
CHICKADEE (Penthestes atricapillus). Length, about 5} inches. Range: Resident in the United States (ex cept the southern half east of the plains), Canada, and Alaska. Habits and economic status: Because of its delightful notes, its confiding ways, and its fearlessness, the chickadee is one of our best known birds. It responds to encouragement, and by hanging within its reach a constant supply of suet the chickadee can be made a regular visi to the garden and orchard. Though insignificant in size, titmice are far from being so from the economic standpoint, owing to their numbers and activity. While one locality is being scrutinized for food by a larger bird, 10 are being searched by the smaller species. The chickadee's food is made up of insects and vegetable matter in the pro portion of 7 of the former to 3 of the latter. Moths and caterpillars are favorites and form about one-third of the whole. Beetles, ants, wasps, bugs, flies, grass hoppers, and spiders make up the rest. The vegetable food is composed of seeds, largely those of pines, with a few of the poison ivy and some weeds. There are few more useful birds than the chickadees. (See Farmers' Bul. 54, pp. 43-44.) WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCH (Sitta carolinensis). Length, 6 inches. White below, above gray, with a black head. Range: Resident in the United States, southern Canada, and Mexico. Habits and economic status: This bird might readily be mistaken by a careless observer for a small woodpecker, but its note, an oft-repeated yank, is very unwoodpecker-like, and, unlike either woodpeckers or creepers, it climbs down ward as easily as upward and seems to set the laws of gravity at defiance. The name was sug gested by the habit of wedging nuts, especially . beechnuts, in the crevices of bark so' as to break them open by blows from the sharp, strong bill. The nuthatch gets its living from the trunks and branches of trees, over which it creeps from daylight to dark. Insects and spiders constitute a little more than 50 per cent of its food. The largest items of these are beetles, moths, and caterpillars, with ants and wasps. The animal food is all in the bird's favor except a few ladybird beetles. More than half f the vegetable food consists of mast, i. e., acorns and other nuts or large seeds. One tenth of the food is grain, mostly waste corn. The nuthatch does no injury, so far as known, and much good.