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(Eurasian) Nuthatch

Both sexes: Streaky grey-brown plumage.

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.

With Food
With Food

Scientific Name Sitta europaea
Length 15 cm  (6")
Wing Span 20-25 cm  (8-10")
Weight 20-24 g  (¾oz)
Breeding Pairs 130000
Present All Year
Status Green

Distribution map - when and where you are most likely to see the species.


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.


© Jean Roché,

© Jean Roché,


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.


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


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


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.