Michigan suffered a drought this summer and seeds are not as plentiful as usual for the birds.
In years such as this some birds who normally winter over in the northern part of the state move south and we get to enjoy seeing them at our feeders.
These movements outside their normal range are called irruptions.
The little Red-breasted Nuthatch is only four inches long, but it's four inches of pure energy. Getting him to hold still long enough for a picture is a challenge.
They're extremely people friendly and will stay at the feeder even when we're outside in the area.
Like their larger cousins, the White-breasted Nuthatch, they think all food tastes better when eaten upside down.
Even when they eat from the sunflower seed feeder which requires them to be head up to get a seed, they approach it after walking upside down the side of the house.
We bought this peanut bag just for them. It's a favorite food and it doesn't require them to be right side up to eat from it.
Another irruptive visitor is the Purple Finch.
It's easy to confuse the Purple Finch with the ever present and numerous House Finches, but there are differences noticeable to the serious bird watcher.
A female Purple Finch (on the right) has a "cleaner" look than a female House Finch. They have a white eye line and wide, white breast streaks. The female House Finches have no distinct eye line and dirty looking breast streaks.
Purple Finches are larger than House Finches.
The male Purple Finch sports a rich raspberry color. House Finches are more dingy, reddish, or even orangey.