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Nuthatch

Eurasian Nuthatch Nuthatch Both Sexes
Blue-grey upperparts and orange-buff underparts.
Distribution map - when and where you are most likely to see the species.
Sitta europaea
Length: 15 cm  (6")
Wing Span: 20-25 cm  (8-10")
Weight: 20-24 g  (¾oz)
Breeding Pairs: 130 000
Present: All Year
Status: Green

Description

The Nuthatch has a long pointed bill and short tail and, unlike woodpeckers and the Treecreeper, it climbs up, down and around the tree trunk and branches using its powerful toes.

The upperparts, wings, crown and nape are blue-grey and the underparts are orange-buff, changing red-brown on the flanks and towards the vent.  Beneath the black eye stripe, which gives it a bandit-like appearance, is white. The bill is grey and the legs yellowish-brown.

Juveniles are like adults but with less chestnut on the flanks.

Voice

Choose from Quicktime and mp3. Song Call
  Quicktime mp3 Quicktime mp3

Nuthatches have a wide range of calls. The commonest is a loud ringing "chit chit chit-chit".

The song is a loud, rapid series of piping notes.

Feeding

The Nuthatch feeds mainly on nuts and seeds, such as acorns and hazel nuts, in the autumn and winter, but insects, such as spiders and beetles in the summer.

They are increasingly visiting gardens for nuts and seeds.

Nesting

The Nuthatch will either use a hole in a tree or wall, or take over an abandoned nest. The hole may be reduced in size by plastering it with mud. The nest is made from bark chips and dead leaves.

Nest boxes with a large hole, about 35 mm diameter, may be used.

The eggs are about 20 mm by 15 mm. They are smooth and glossy, and white with red or reddish-brown brown spots. The female incubates the eggs by herself, but both parents feed the altricial young after they have hatched.

Breeding Data
Breeding Starts Number of Clutches Number of Eggs Incubation (days) Fledge (days)
late April 1-2 4-13 14-18 23-25

Movements

The Nuthatch is mostly sedentary though a few juveniles disperse from their hatching place.

Conservation

The Nuthatch population has increased rapidly since the mid-1970s and their range has expanded northwards into Scotland. The reason for these changes is unknown.

My Garden

Graph of garden visits.

We have only seen Nuthatch around the gardens on a few occasions, though there are plenty in the local woods.

A Nuthatch flew through mid-August 2002 and it seemed only a matter of time before they started to visit the garden. The first visit was in October 2003 and then a few times since.


Last revision: 21 Feb 2015
Copyright © David Gains 1999-2017.
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