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Nuthatch

Length: 14cm

Wingspan: 22.5-27cm

Conservation Status: Green

Description: Nuthatches are powerful birds with a large head, a strong dagger-like bill and a short tail. They have strong legs with long claws which help them grip as they travel up and down trees. Their colouring is 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. Female nuthatches 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.

Nesting: Nuthatches spend most of their time in trees, being particularly fond of oak trees and are most often found in woodland areas, parks and gardens. 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. Nuthatches are single-brooded, producing 6-9 white eggs marked with reddish brown specks which they incubate for 13-16 days. They are very territorial birds and if they are disturbed during nesting they make a hissing noise to ward of predators. Although nuthatches 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.

Feeding: Nuthatches will eat insects, spiders, nuts and suet and can often be seen foraging around tree trunks and branches hunting for larvae and insects. At bird feeders nuthatches will dominate many other birds.



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