Nuthatch (Sitta europaea)


Nuthatches enjoy insects, spiders, nuts and suet and can often be seen foraging around tree trunks and branches hunting for larvae and insects. At bird feeders it dominates many other birds.


Nuthatches are smaller than Sparrows and look much stockier. They are powerful birds with a large head, strong dagger-like bill and short tail. They have strong legs with long nails which help them to grip as they travel up and down trees. Their colouring is exotic and eye-catching with a striking black eye stripe, white chin, blue grey upper parts, orange buff under parts and a chestnut wash on the flanks. Females are paler in colour than the males and therefore less noticeable, but other than that the sexes look alike. Juveniles look similar to females except they are much duller.


Nuthatches spend most of their time in trees, being particularly fond of oak trees and they are most regularly found in woodland areas, parks and gardens. All Nuthatches nest in cavities, filling them with small chips of bark and dry leaves and then covering and lining the nest with mud. They readily take to nest boxes but will plaster up the entrance hole with wet mud leaving just enough room for them to squeeze in and out. They are single-brooded producing 6-9 white eggs marked with reddish brown specks which they incubate for 13-16 days. They are very territorial little birds and if they are disturbed during nesting they make a hissing noise to ward of predators. Although they have a variety of songs and calls they use a loud simple song to mark their territory and pairs stay together, rarely leaving the areas where they live. In fact most juveniles settle within 10km of where they were hatched.

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