Red-breasted Nuthatches (Red-nuts, for short) seem to defy gravity in their active search for food. Their backward pointing toes (one on each foot) have long, curved claws which allow them to solidly grip tree bark as they move sideways, up, or even straight down. With blue-gray backs, rusty sides, and black eye-stripes, these short-tailed, acrobatic songbirds are not easily confused with other birds. White-breasted Nuthatches share similar habits, but are larger, have white sides, and lack black eye-stripes.
Red-nuts are year-round residents in parts of New England. In winter, they can be seen visiting feeders or foraging in mixed species flocks with Black-capped Chickadees and other small songbirds. Their calls suggest small toy horns.