Brown-headed Nuthatch

(Sitta pusilla) Sittidae family

Brown Headed Nuthatch
Brown Headed Nuthatch

The brown-headed nuthatch is a tiny stocky bird with a disproportionately large bill, brown cap down to a narrow black eye line and puffy white cheeks, chin and belly. The back and wings are blue gray with darker coverts and a white spot at the nape. Length 4 ¼ inches. Wing span 7 inches. Almost identical to its western counterpart, the pygmy nuthatch, but easily distinguished because there is no range overlap. The four species of nuthatches in the family of Sittidae are all short tailed and long winged with an undulating flight, similar to that of a woodpecker.

All nuthatches have a unique tree climbing method; they often climb head down on tree trunks or even upside down on the underside of branches as they search the bark for insects

Feeds on insects and pine seeds. Very likely to visit back yard bird feeders and seem to be comfortable near humans.

The brown-headed nuthatch range is the pine and pine/hardwood forest of the southeastern United States from eastern Texas to Maryland in all seasons.

In March/April they nest in cavities, hollow branches, abandoned woodpecker holes or nest boxes. Unless the first clutch fails, brown-headed nuthatches rarely lay a second clutch of eggs.

During nesting season brown-headed nuthatches are very territorial. They defend an area near their nesting cavity against other species of nuthatches. During the rest of the year they are very social and often feed in same species/mixed species groups. Click image for more info.

Fun Facts:

•The brown-headed nuthatch is one of only a few species known to use tools. By holding a small piece of bark or twig in its bill, it pry’s open the bark on trees to expose insects.
•Brown-headed nuthatches are monogamous.
•Many brown-headed nuthatch pairs have a “helper” who assists them with nest building and feeding of the young. These helpers are usually yearling males. It is thought that they are from last year’s clutch.
•A group of nuthatches is known as a “Jar”.