The first bird to eat out of my hand was a Red-breasted Nuthatch, I was trying to convince some Chickadees to come to my handful of sunflower, I took the feeder down and held my hand out in the same location. The Chickadees were having nothing to do with that, they did however continue using the feeder that I was holding between my legs. I was watching this when I felt the faintest weight change on my palm, when I glanced back at my hand, there was a Nuthatch staring me right in the eye. He chirped a little thank you and darted back into the tree. Him and a couple of his Nuthatch buddies came to my hand regularly from that day on, for some reason the Chickadees wouldn't join in. When one finally came to my hand, it was only a matter of minutes before a dozen were alternating turns with the Nuthatch. By the middle of that winter the two species were following me all over, even jumping into the seed bucket when I walked around filling feeders.
It's been a few years since I've had time to slow down and let these little guys train me to always carry a pocket full of sunflower seeds. I do have to work on it though, there's no better therapy than holding a tiny bird in your hand...now if I can just get my son to sit still long enough.
I saw a neat tip for hand feeding wild birds, a lady stuffed a pair of coveralls, made a fake head with one of those realistic rubber masks, (I think it was Clinton) and a fake hand. It was all placed on a lawn chair and the "hand" and lap were filled with sunflower seeds. The birds soon got accustom to the face and would land for the seeds. Any time the creator wanted to experience hand feeding she just sat in Bill's lap with a handful of seeds. Clinton of course, denied the whole arrangement.
I've seen pictures of Blue and Gray Jays coming to feed in people's hands, I'm sure that takes a lot of time and patience and I've seen hummingbirds coming to hand held nectar feeders and recently a video of them coming to a bit of nectar held in a cupped palm (really cool, it's on YouTube).
The Red-breasted Nuthatch still holds a special place, being my first, we still have a few dashing to and from the sunflower feeders or hanging, usually up-side-down from the suet feeder. Like the Chickadee they grab a seed and take it to a nearby branch to open, unlike the Chickadee who holds the seed between its feet to beat them open, the Nuthatch finds a suitable piece of raised bark or crevice to hold the seed while it hammers it open. (Somewhere on the evolutionary chain, the Nuthatch must have hit its thumb one too many times.) If the seed pops out the bird wastes no time zooming to the ground to retrieve it, honoring the 5 second rule. Once my old Golden was sleeping under a tree, a Nuthatch dropped a seed on her back, it rummaged through her hair, teased the seed out and was back in the tree before she woke up (although I'm pretty sure it was our laughing that woke her).
The Red-breasted is our most common nuthatch, we're often privileged to spot the odd White-breasted in our yard, although not even once a year on average. When they do stop by our yard they usually stay for a few weeks, it gives us a chance to get familiar with their similar but different calls. Their behavior is pretty much the same as their cousin, but they are larger, the breast is all white and they have a big white cheek that appears even larger because they don't have the black eye-line breaking it up, like the Red-breasted.
The last time we had one, I called my son to sneak over for a look, when he saw it he said, "yeah, must have followed us from Grandpa's..." and walked away unimpressed, he'd just returned from Ontario, where White-breasted are the common Nuthatch.
There are other nuthatch species, but none of them come to New Brunswick, yet anyway. We have a couple other birds you might subconsciously think are Red-breasted Nuthatch, only because of their size and the way they forage around the tree bark. By taking a closer look you might find new bird for one or two of your various lists.
Last spring my son called me to the window to see a bird he thought might be a Nuthatch by the way he was scooting around the tree, but it was all "stripy", when we relocated the bird we found a Black-and-white Warbler. They are among the first warblers to return each spring, because it forages for food in tree bark it can migrate earlier, before there are many flying insects that most warblers dine on.
From a distance, at a quick glance, the Brown Creeper resembles a Nuthatch, watch it for a bit though and you see a difference in the way it moves, more mouse-like and it goes up the tree head-first. Not the way the Nuthatch comes down the tree, head-first, giving it a local nickname, that when I first moved here thought was an Albert County thing, but now I hear it in most of South Eastern New Brunswick. The first time I heard it was from my 80-something neighbour who told me she had one in her yard yesterday. ("I had an ___-__ in my yard yesterday!") All that summer I avoided pointing my binoculars in that direction. Raise your hand if you know what I'm talking about.