The nuthatches constitute a genus, Sitta, of small passerine birds belonging to the family Sittidae. Characterised by large heads, short tails, and powerful bills and feet, nuthatches advertise their territory using loud, simple songs. Most species exhibit grey or bluish upperparts and a black eye stripe.

Most nuthatches breed in the temperate or montane woodlands of the Northern Hemisphere, although two species have adapted to rocky habitats in the warmer and drier regions of Eurasia. However, the greatest diversity is in Southern Asia, and similarities between the species have made it difficult to identify distinct species. All members of this genus nest in holes or crevices. Most species are non-migratory and live in their habitat year-round, although the North American red-breasted nuthatch migrates to warmer regions during the winter. A few nuthatch species have restricted ranges and face threats from deforestation.

Nuthatches are omnivorous where they eat mostly insects, nuts, and seeds. They forage for insects hidden in or under bark by climbing along tree trunks and branches, sometimes upside-down. They forage within their territories when breeding, but they may join mixed feeding flocks at other times. Their habit of wedging a large food item in a crevice and then hacking at it with their strong bills gives this group its English name.

Sitta europaea wildlife 2 1
A Eurasian nuthatch climbing a tree trunk in search of food
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Sittidae
Lesson, 1828
Genus: Sitta
Linnaeus, 1758
Type species
Sitta europaea
Linnaeus, 1758


The nuthatch family, Sittidae, was described by René-Primevère Lesson in 1828.[1][2] Sometimes the wallcreeper (Tichodroma muraria), which is restricted to the mountains of southern Eurasia, is placed in the same family as the nuthatches, but in a separate subfamily "Tichodromadinae", in which case the nuthatches are classified in the subfamily "Sittinae". However, it is more often placed in a separate family, the Tichodromadidae.[3] The wallcreeper is intermediate in its morphology between the nuthatches and the treecreepers, but its appearance, the texture of its plumage, and the shape and pattern of its tail suggest that it is closer to the former taxon.[4] The nuthatch vanga of Madagascar (formerly known as the coral-billed nuthatch) and the sittellas from Australia and New Guinea were once placed in the nuthatch family because of similarities in appearance and lifestyle, but they are not closely related. The resemblances arose via convergent evolution to fill an ecological niche.[5]

The nuthatches' closest relatives, other than the wallcreeper, are the treecreepers, and the two (or three) families are sometimes placed in a larger grouping with the wrens and gnatcatchers. This superfamily, the Certhioidea, is proposed on phylogenetic studies using mitochondrial and nuclear DNA, and was created to cover a clade of (four or) five families removed from a larger grouping of passerine birds, the Sylvioidea.[2][6]

The nuthatches are all in the genus Sitta Linnaeus, 1758,[7] a name derived from sittē, Ancient Greek for this bird.[8] Nuthatch refers to the propensity of some species to wedge a large insect or seed in a crack and hack at it with their strong bills.[9] Species boundaries in the nuthatches are difficult to define. The red-breasted nuthatch, Corsican nuthatch and Chinese nuthatch have breeding ranges separated by thousands of kilometres, but are similar in habitat preference, appearance and song. They were formerly considered to be one species, but are now normally split into three[10] and comprise a superspecies along with the Krüper's and Algerian nuthatch. Unusually for nuthatches, all five species excavate their own nests.[11]

The Eurasian, chestnut-vented, Kashmir and chestnut-bellied nuthatches form another superspecies and replace each other geographically across Asia. They are currently considered to be four separate species, but the south-Asian forms were once believed to be a subspecies of the Eurasian nuthatch.[12] A recent change in this taxonomy is a split of the chestnut-bellied nuthatch into three species, namely the Indian nuthatch, Sitta castanea, found south of the Ganges, the Burmese nuthatch, Sitta neglecta, found in southeast Asia, and the chestnut-bellied nuthatch sensu stricto, S. cinnamoventris, which occurs in the Himalayas.[13] Mitochondrial DNA studies have demonstrated that the white-breasted northern subspecies of Eurasian nuthatch, S. (europea) arctica, is distinctive,[14] and also a possible candidate for full species status.[15] This split has been accepted by the British Ornithologists' Union.[16]

A 2006 review of Asian nuthatches suggested that there are still unresolved problems in nuthatch taxonomy and proposed splitting the genus Sitta. This suggestion would move the red- and yellow-billed south Asian species (velvet-fronted, yellow-billed and sulphur-billed nuthatches) to a new genus, create a third genus for the blue nuthatch, and possibly a fourth for the beautiful nuthatch.[15]

The fossil record for this group appears to be restricted to a foot bone of an early Miocene bird from Bavaria which has been identified as an extinct representative of the climbing Certhioidea, a clade comprising the treecreepers, wallcreeper and nuthatches. It has been described as Certhiops rummeli.[17] Two fossil species have been described in the genus Sitta: S. cuvieri Gervais, 1852 and S. senogalliensis Portis, 1888, but probably not belong to nuthatches.[18]


The red-breasted nuthatch is said to have a call like a tin trumpet.

Nuthatches are compact birds with short legs, compressed wings, and square 12-feathered tails. They have long, sturdy, pointed bills and strong toes with long claws. Nuthatches have blue-grey backs (violet-blue in some Asian species, which also have red or yellow bills) and white underparts, which are variably tinted with buff, orange, rufous or lilac. Although head markings vary between species, a long black eye stripe, with contrasting white supercilium, dark forehead and blackish cap is common. The sexes look similar, but may differ in underpart colouration, especially on the rear flanks and under the tail. Juveniles and first-year birds can be almost indistinguishable from adults.[5]

The sizes of nuthatches vary,[5] from the large giant nuthatch, at 195 mm (7.7 in) and 36–47 g (1.3–1.7 oz),[19] to the small brown-headed nuthatch and the pygmy nuthatch, both around 100 mm (3.9 in) in length and about 10 g (0.35 oz).[20]

Nuthatches are very vocal, using an assortment of whistles, trills and calls. Their breeding songs tend to be simple and often identical to their contact calls but longer in duration.[5] The red-breasted nuthatch, which coexists with the black-capped chickadee throughout much of its range, is able to understand the latter species' calls. The chickadee has subtle call variations that communicate information about the size and risk of potential predators. Many birds recognise the simple alarm calls produced by other species, but the red-breasted nuthatch is able to interpret the chickadees' detailed variations and to respond appropriately.[21]


The species diversity for Sittidae is greatest in southern Asia (possibly the original home of this family), where about 15 species occur, but it has representatives across much of the Northern Hemisphere.[5] The currently recognised nuthatch species are tabulated below.[22]

Species in taxonomic sequence
Common and
binomial names
Image Description Range
(population if known)
Eurasian nuthatch
(Sitta europaea)
Eurasian Nuthatch (Sitta europaea) -modified 14 cm (5.5 in) long, black eye stripe, blue-grey upper parts, reddish and/or white underparts depending on subspecies. Temperate Eurasia
(10 million)[12]
Siberian nuthatch
(Sitta arctica)
Sitta arctica png 15 cm (5.9 in) long, long and thin bill, black eye stripe, blue-grey upper parts, pure white underparts, long claw. Eastern Siberia.
Chestnut-vented nuthatch
(Sitta nagaensis)
SittaNagaensis 12.5–14 cm (4.9–5.5 in) long, mostly pale grey upper parts and mostly whitish underparts, dark eye stripe. Northeast India east to northwest Thailand[23]
Kashmir nuthatch
(Sitta cashmirensis)
SittaCashmirensis 14 cm (5.5 in) long, mostly greyish upper parts, reddish underparts with a paler throat and chin. Eastern Afghanistan to western Nepal[24]
Chestnut-bellied nuthatch
(Sitta cinnamoventris)
SittaCinnamoventrisGould 13 cm (5.1 in) long, colours vary between the subspecies. Foothills of the Himalayas from northeast India to western Yunnan and Thailand.[13][25]
Indian nuthatch
(Sitta castanea)
SittaCastanea 13 cm (5.1 in) long. Northern and central India.[13][25]
Burmese nuthatch
(Sitta neglecta)
Sitta neglecta 13 cm (5.1 in) long. Myanmar to Laos, Cambodia and southern Vietnam.[13][25]
White-tailed nuthatch
(Sitta himalayensis)
SittaHimalayensis 12 cm (4.7 in) long, smaller bill than S. cashmirensis, rufous-orange underparts with unmarked bright rufous undertail-coverts, white on the upper tail coverts is difficult to see in the field. Himalayas from northeast India to southwest China, locally east to Vietnam[26]
White-browed nuthatch
(Sitta victoriae)
SittaVictoriae 11.5 cm (4.5 in) long, greyish upper parts and mostly whitish underparts. Endemic to Burma.[27]
Pygmy nuthatch
(Sitta pygmaea)
Pygmy Nuthatch (Sitta pygmaea) at a feeder 10 cm (3.9 in) long, grey cap, blue-grey upper parts, whitish underparts, whitish spot on the nape. Western North America from British Columbia to southwest Mexico
(2.3 million)[28]
Brown-headed nuthatch
(Sitta pusilla)
Brown-headed Nuthatch-27527-4c 10.5 cm (4.1 in) long, brown cap with narrow black eye stripe and buff white cheeks, chin, and belly, wings are bluish-grey, small white spot at the nape of the neck. Endemic to the Southeastern United States
(1.5 million)[20]
Bahama nuthatch

(Sitta insularis)

Very similar to brown-headed nuthatch, but has a darker eye stripe, much longer beak, shorter wings, and a different call than it. Endemic to Grand Bahama (fewer than 1,200 individuals)[29][30]
Corsican nuthatch
(Sitta whiteheadi)
SittaWhiteheadi 12 cm (4.7 in) long, blue-grey above, and buff below. Male has a black crown and eye stripe separated by a white supercilium; the female has a grey crown and eye stripe. Endemic to Corsica
(c. 2,000 pairs)[31][32]
Algerian nuthatch
(Sitta ledanti)
SittaLedanti 13.5 cm (5.3 in) long, blue-grey above, and buff below. Male has a black crown and eye stripe separated by a white supercilium; female has a grey crown and eye stripe. Endemic to northeast Algeria
(Fewer than 1,000 pairs)[33]
Krüper's nuthatch
(Sitta krueperi)
090503 Krupers nuthatch east of Gulf of Kalloni 11.5–12.5 cm (4.5–4.9 in) long, whitish underparts with a reddish throat, mostly grey upper parts. Turkey, Georgia, Russia and on the Greek island of Lesvos.
(80,000–170,000 pairs)[34]
Chinese nuthatch
(Sitta villosa)
SittaVillosa 11.5 cm (4.5 in) long, greyish upper parts and pinkish underparts. China, North Korea, and South Korea[35]
Yunnan nuthatch
(Sitta yunnanensis)
SittaYunnanensis 12 cm (4.7 in) long, greyish upper parts and whitish underparts. Endemic to southwest China[36]
Red-breasted nuthatch
(Sitta canadensis)
Red-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta canadensis)10-4c 11 cm (4.3 in) long, blue-grey upper parts, with reddish underparts, white face with a black eye stripe, white throat, a straight grey bill and a black crown. Western and northern temperate North America, winters across much of the US and southern Canada
(18 million)[37]
White-cheeked nuthatch
(Sitta leucopsis)
White-cheeked Nutthatch I IMG 7384 13 cm (5.1 in) long, white cheeks, chin, throat, and underparts, upper parts mostly dark grey. western Himalayas[38]
Przevalski's nuthatch
(Sitta przewalskii)
Sitta przewalskii 13 cm (5.1 in) long, white cheeks, chin, throat, and underparts, upper parts mostly dark grey. southeastern Tibet to western China[39]
White-breasted nuthatch
(Sitta carolinensis)
Sitta-carolinensis-001 13–14 cm (5.1–5.5 in) long, the white of the face completely surrounds the eye, face and the underparts are white, upper parts are mostly pale blue-grey. North America from southern Canada to Mexico[40][41]
Western rock nuthatch
(Sitta neumayer)
Westernrocknuthatch Sitta neumayer 13.5 cm (5.3 in) long. white throat and underparts shading to buff on the belly. The shade of grey upper parts and the darkness of the eye stripe vary between the three subspecies. The Balkans east through Greece and Turkey to Iran
Eastern rock nuthatch
(Sitta tephronota)
Sitta tephronota 16–18 cm (6.3–7.1 in) long, greyish upper parts and whitish underparts, pinkish rump. Northern Iraq and western Iran east through Central Asia
(43,000–100,000 in Europe)[43]
Velvet-fronted nuthatch
(Sitta frontalis)
Velvet-fronted Nuthatch (Sitta frontalis)2-2008-11-07 12.5 cm (4.9 in) long, violet-blue above, with lavender cheeks, beige underparts and a whitish throat, bill is red, black patch on forehead. India and Sri Lanka through Southeast Asia to Indonesia[44]
Yellow-billed nuthatch
(Sitta solangiae)
SittaSolangiae 12.5–13.5 cm (4.9–5.3 in) long, white underparts, bluish upper parts, yellow beak. Vietnam and Hainan Island, China[45]
Sulphur-billed nuthatch
(Sitta oenochlamys)
SittaOenochlamys 12.5 cm (4.9 in) long, pinkish underparts, yellow beak, bluish upper parts. Endemic to the Philippines[46]
Blue nuthatch
(Sitta azurea)
Blue Nuthatch - Cibodas Botanical Garden, Java, Indonesia (cropped) 13.5 cm (5.3 in) long, greyish upper parts and whitish underparts. Malaysia, Sumatra and Java[47]
Giant nuthatch
(Sitta magna)
SittaMagna 19.5 cm (7.7 in) long, greyish upper parts and whitish underparts. China, Burma, and Thailand.[19]
Beautiful nuthatch
(Sitta formosa)
SittaFormosa 16.5 cm (6.5 in) long, black-backed with white streaking, bright blue upper back, rump and shoulders, dull orange underparts and paler face. Northeast India and Burma and locally in southern China and northern Southeast Asia[48]

Distribution and habitat

Pinus ponderosa 8144t
Open ponderosa pine woodlands are a habitat for pygmy nuthatch.

Members of the nuthatch family live in most of North America and Europe and throughout Asia down to the Wallace Line. Nuthatches are sparsely represented in Africa; one species lives in a small area of northeastern Algeria[49] and a population of the Eurasian nuthatch subspecies, S. e. hispaniensis, lives in the mountains of Morocco.[50] Most species are resident year-round. The only significant migrant is the red-breasted nuthatch, which winters widely across North America, deserting the northernmost parts of its breeding range in Canada; it has been recorded as a vagrant in Bermuda, Iceland and England.[37]

Most nuthatches are woodland birds and the majority are found in coniferous or other evergreen forests, although each species has a preference for a particular tree type. The strength of the association varies from the Corsican nuthatch, which is closely linked with Corsican pine, to the catholic habitat of the Eurasian nuthatch, which prefers deciduous or mixed woods but breeds in coniferous forests in the north of its extensive range.[50][51] However, the two species of rock nuthatches are not strongly tied to woodlands: they breed on rocky slopes or cliffs, although both move into wooded areas when not breeding.[52][53] In parts of Asia where several species occur in the same geographic region, there is often an altitudinal separation in their preferred habitats.[54][55]

Nuthatches prefer a fairly temperate climate; northern species live near sea level whereas those further south are found in cooler highland habitats. Eurasian and red-breasted nuthatches are lowland birds in the north of their extensive ranges, but breed in the mountains further south; for example, Eurasian nuthatch, which breeds where the July temperature range is 16–27 °C (61–81 °F), is found near sea level in Northern Europe, but between 1,750 and 1,850 m (5,740 and 6,070 ft) altitude in Morocco.[50] The velvet-fronted nuthatch is the sole member of the family which prefers tropical lowland forests.[44]


Nesting, breeding and survival

Cross-section of a western rock nuthatch nest cavity with a mud wall and tunnel across its entrance.

All nuthatches nest in cavities; except for the two species of rock nuthatches, all use tree holes, making a simple cup lined with soft materials on which to rest eggs. In some species the lining consists of small woody objects such as bark flakes and seed husks, while in others it includes the moss, grass, hair and feathers typical of passerine birds.[12][28]

Members of the red-breasted nuthatch superspecies excavate their own tree holes, although most other nuthatches use natural holes or old woodpecker nests. Several species reduce the size of the entrance hole and seal up cracks with mud. The red-breasted nuthatch makes the nest secure by daubing sticky conifer resin globules around the entrance, the male applying the resin outside and the female inside. The resin may deter predators or competitors (the resident birds avoid the resin by diving straight through the entrance hole).[56] The white-breasted nuthatch smears blister beetles around the entrance to its nest, and it has been suggested that the unpleasant smell from the crushed insects deters squirrels, its chief competitor for natural tree cavities.[57]

The western rock nuthatch builds an elaborate flask-shaped nest from mud, dung and hair or feathers, and decorates the nest's exterior and nearby crevices with feathers and insect wings. The nests are located in rock crevices, in caves, under cliff overhangs or on buildings.[42] The eastern rock nuthatch builds a similar but less complex structure across the entrance to a cavity. Its nest can be quite small but may weigh up to 32 kg (70 lb). This species will also nest in river banks or tree holes and will enlarge its nest hole if it the cavity is too small.[43]

Dendrocopos major 4-3c
The great spotted woodpecker is an important predator of Eurasian nuthatch nests.[58]

Nuthatches are monogamous. The female produces eggs that are white with red or yellow markings; the clutch size varies, tending to be larger for northern species. The eggs are incubated for 12 to 18 days by the female alone, or by both parents, depending on the species. The altricial (naked and helpless) chicks take between 21 and 27 days to fledge.[43][53][59][60] Both parents feed the young, and in the case of two American species, brown-headed and pygmy, helper males from the previous brood may assist the parents in feeding.[61][62]

For the few species on which data are available, the average nuthatch lifespan in the wild is between 2 and 3.5 years, although ages of up to 10 years have been recorded.[61][63] The Eurasian nuthatch has an adult annual survival rate of 53%[64] and the male Corsican nuthatch 61.6%.[65] Nuthatches and other small woodland birds share the same predators: accipiters, owls, squirrels and woodpeckers. An American study showed that nuthatch responses to predators may be linked to reproductive strategies. It measured the willingness of males of two species to feed incubating females on the nest when presented with models of a sharp-shinned hawk, which hunts adult nuthatches, or a house wren, which destroys eggs. The white-breasted nuthatch is shorter-lived than the red-breasted nuthatch, but has more young, and was found to respond more strongly to the egg predator, whereas the red-breasted showed greater concern with the hawk. This supports the theory that longer-lived species benefit from adult survival and future breeding opportunities while birds with shorter life spans place more value on the survival of their larger broods.[66]

Cold can be a problem for small birds that do not migrate. Communal roosting in tight huddles can help conserve heat and several nuthatch species employ it—up to 170 pygmy nuthatches have been seen in a single roost. The pygmy nuthatch is able to lower its body temperature when roosting, conserving energy through hypothermia and a lowered metabolic rate.[61]


2017.07.05.-14-NaturCampingplatz am Springsee-Storkow (Mark)--Kleiber-Maennchen
Eurasian nuthatch prying something out from under the bark of a tree

Nuthatches forage along tree trunks and branches and are members of the same feeding guild as woodpeckers. Unlike woodpeckers and treecreepers, however, they do not use their tails for additional support, relying instead on their strong legs and feet to progress in jerky hops.[60][67] They are able to descend head-first and hang upside-down beneath twigs and branches. Krüper's nuthatch can even stretch downward from an upside-down position to drink water from leaves without touching the ground.[68] Rock nuthatches forage with a similar technique to the woodland species, but seek food on rock faces and sometimes buildings. When breeding, a pair of nuthatches will only feed within their territory, but at other times will associate with passing tits or join mixed-species feeding flocks.[5][59][69]

Insects and other invertebrates are a major portion of the nuthatch diet, especially during the breeding season, when they rely almost exclusively on live prey,[63] but most species also eat seeds during the winter, when invertebrates are less readily available. Larger food items, such as big insects, snails, acorns or seeds may be wedged into cracks and pounded with the bird's strong bill.[5] Unusually for a bird, the brown-headed nuthatch uses a piece of tree bark as a lever to pry up other bark flakes to look for food; the bark tool may then be carried from tree to tree or used to cover a seed cache.[62]

All nuthatches appear to store food, especially seeds, in tree crevices, in the ground, under small stones, or behind bark flakes, and these caches are remembered for as long as 30 days.[12][28][70] Similarly, the rock nuthatches wedge snails into suitable crevices for consumption in times of need.[42][43] European nuthatches have been found to avoid using their caches during benign conditions in order to save them for harsher times.[71]


White-breasted nuthatch, common in much of North America

Some nuthatches, such as the Eurasian nuthatch and the North American species, have extensive ranges and large populations, and few conservation problems,[22] although locally they may be affected by woodland fragmentation.[58][72] In contrast, some of the more restricted species face severe pressures.

The endangered white-browed nuthatch is found only in the Mount Victoria area of Burma, where forest up to 2,000 m (6,600 ft) above sea level has been almost totally cleared and habitat between 2,000–2,500 m (6,600–8,200 ft) is heavily degraded. Nearly 12,000 people live in the Natma Taung national park which includes Mount Victoria, and their fires and traps add to the pressure on the nuthatch. The population of the white-browed nuthatch, estimated at only a few thousand, is decreasing, and no conservation measures are in place.[73][74] The Algerian nuthatch is found in only four areas of Algeria, and it is possible that the total population does not exceed 1,000 birds. Fire, erosion, and grazing and disturbance by livestock have reduced the quality of the habitat, despite its location in the Taza National Park.[75]

Deforestation has also caused population declines for the vulnerable Yunnan and yellow-billed nuthatches. The Yunnan nuthatch can cope with some tree loss, since it prefers open pine woodland, but although still locally common, it has disappeared from several of the areas in which it was recorded in the early 20th century.[76] The threat to yellow-billed is particularly acute on Hainan, where more than 70% of the woodland has been lost in the past 50 years due to shifting cultivation and the use of wood for fuel during Chinese government re-settlement programmes.[77]

Krüper's nuthatch is threatened by urbanisation and development in and around mature coniferous forests, particularly in the Mediterranean coastal areas where the species was once numerous. A law promoting tourism came into force in Turkey in 2003, further exacerbating the threats to their habitat. The law reduced bureaucracy and made it easier for developers to build tourism facilities and summer houses in the coastal zone where woodland loss is a growing problem for the nuthatch.[78][79]


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  33. ^ Harrap & Quinn (1996) pp. 135–138 "Algerian Nuthatch"
  34. ^ Harrap & Quinn (1996) pp. 138–140 "Krüper's Nuthatch"
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  36. ^ Harrap & Quinn (1996) pp. 143–144 "Yunnan Nuthatch"
  37. ^ a b Harrap & Quinn (1996) pp. 144–148 "Red-breasted Nuthatch"
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  41. ^ Bull, John and Farrand, John Jr. The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Birds, Eastern Region. Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. (1977) pp. 646–647 "White-breasted Nuthatch"
  42. ^ a b c Harrap & Quinn (1996) pp. 155–158 "Western Rock Nuthatch"
  43. ^ a b c d Harrap & Quinn (1996) pp. 158–161 "Eastern Rock Nuthatch"
  44. ^ a b Harrap & Quinn (1996) pp. 161–164 "Velvet-fronted Nuthatch"
  45. ^ Harrap & Quinn (1996) pp. 164–165 "Yellow-billed Nuthatch"
  46. ^ Harrap & Quinn (1996) pp. 165–168 "Sulphur-billed Nuthatch"
  47. ^ Harrap & Quinn (1996) pp. 168–169 "Blue Nuthatch"
  48. ^ Harrap & Quinn (1996) pp. 172–173 "Beautiful Nuthatch"
  49. ^ Snow & Perrins (1998) pp. 1400–1401 "Algerian Nuthatch"
  50. ^ a b c Snow & Perrins (1998) pp. 1402–1404 "Nuthatch"
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  • Harrap, Simon; Quinn, David (1996). Tits, Nuthatches and Treecreepers. Christopher Helm. ISBN 978-0-7136-3964-3.
  • Snow, David; Perrins, Christopher M., eds. (1998). The Birds of the Western Palearctic (BWP) (concise (2 volume) ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-854099-1.

External links

Anthorn Radio Station

Anthorn Radio Station is located near Anthorn, Cumbria, England, overlooking the Solway Firth, and is operated by Babcock International (with whom former operators VT Communications are now merged). It has three transmitters: one VLF; one LF; and an eLORAN transmitter.

The characteristic triangular pattern of roads is a remnant from the World War II military airfield which was operated by the Fleet Air Arm as HMS Nuthatch.

Beautiful nuthatch

The beautiful nuthatch (Sitta formosa, sometimes called Callisitta formosa) is a bird species in the Sittidae family, collectively known as nuthatches. It is a large nuthatch, measuring 16.5 cm (6.5 in) in length, that is not sexually dimorphic. Its coloration and markings are dramatic, the upper parts being black and azure, streaked with white and pale blue on the head and lined with the same colors on the wing feathers. The underparts are orange, and the eyebrow and throat are ochre. An irregular, dark eyestripe highlights its eye. S. formosa's ecology is not fully described, but it is known to feed on small insects and larvae found on the trunks and epiphyte-covered branches of trees in its range. Reproduction takes place from April to May; the nest is placed in the hole of an oak, rhododendron, or other large tree. The nest is made of plant material and fur in which the bird typically lays four to six eggs.

Although the species is found in most of the countries making up the mainland of Southeast Asia, it appears to be rare throughout its range, its population being highly localized where it is found. The bird nests predominantly in mountain forests at an altitudinal range from 950 m (3,120 ft) up to nearly 2,300 m (7,500 ft), with some seasonal height adjustment, down to around 300 m (980 ft) in winter. Its apparent localization within its range makes rigorous estimates of its population difficult, but its habitat is threatened by deforestation and the species appear to be in decline. It has been classified as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Blue nuthatch

The blue nuthatch (Sitta azurea) is a bird species in the Sittidae family, collectively known as nuthatches. It is a medium-sized nuthatch, measuring 13.5 cm (5.3 in) in length. The species, which lacks sexual dimorphism, has dramatic coloration unlike any other member of its genus. Its head is black or blackish-blue dark blue upper parts close to purple with azure feathers. The wings are edged with black. The throat and chest are white or a washed buff color, contrasting with the upper and the belly of a very dark blue; the feathers are generally clear, blue-gray or purplish.

The blue nuthatch is found in the Malay Peninsula and in Indonesia, on the islands of Sumatra and Java, inhabiting subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests and subtropical or tropical moist montane forests above 900 m (3,000 ft) in altitude. Its ecology is poorly known, but it feeds on small invertebrates found on trees; reproduction takes place from April to June or July.

Three subspecies are distinguished: S. a. expectata, S. a. nigriventer and S. a. azurea, which vary chiefly in the coloring of their mantles, chests and bellies. The species' apparent closest relatives are the velvet-fronted nuthatch (S. frontalis), the yellow-billed nuthatch (S. solangiae) and the sulphur-billed nuthatch (S. oenochlamys). The population of the species has not been rigorously estimated but the species appears to be at low risk of extinction because of the extent of its distribution. It has been classified as of Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Brown-headed nuthatch

The brown-headed nuthatch (Sitta pusilla) is a small songbird found in pine forests throughout the Southeastern United States. The Bahama nuthatch was and still is considered a subspecies (S. p. insularis) by several authorities including the IOC, but the IUCN and BirdLife International have reclassified it as its own separate species. The bird, like other nuthatches, possesses a sharp black nail-like beak, which it uses to pound open seeds. It is a frequent visitor to feeding stations and is highly fond of sunflower seeds and suet cakes.

Bold and inquisitive, this bird is readily approachable by humans. The bird is frequently observed using a small chip of bark held in its beak as a tool to dig for insects.

Despite the other species' common name, the brown-headed nuthatch is about the same size as the pygmy nuthatch and the two species are the world's smallest nuthatches. In the brown-headed nuthatch, the total length is 9–11 cm (3.5–4.3 in), wingspan is 16–18 cm (6.3–7.1 in) and body mass is 10–12 g (0.35–0.42 oz). This species sports a brown cap with narrow black eyeline and buff white cheeks, chin, and belly. Its wings are bluish-gray in color. A small white spot is found at the nape of the neck. The bird's call is a sharp whee-hyah sounding very similar to a "rubber duck" toy and particularly is loud for a bird its size. They also make softer "pit pit pit" calls while in flight as well as other squeaking noises. If heard or seen well, this species is virtually unmistakable in the wild, since it overlaps only with the very differently marked and larger red-breasted and white-breasted nuthatches.

Chestnut-bellied nuthatch

The chestnut-bellied nuthatch (Sitta cinnamoventris) belongs to the Sittidae family.

It is found in the Indian Subcontinent occurring in the countries of India, Tibet Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Nepal.

It is found in subtropical or tropical forest], that are dry or moist forests, and in montane and lowland forests.

This species is very similar to the Burmese nuthatch but it has a heavier bill, the crown and mantle are of the same shade. The wing and tail markings show contrasting markings; silvery-edge to primaries, blackish inner webs to tertials and tail with large white spots in the tail. Rasmussen and Anderton (2005) established the Chestnut-bellied nuthatch is different from the Indian nuthatch and the Burmese nuthatch. White on ear coverts does not extend into chin unlike in the Indian nuthatch. Race almorae of Nepal and NW Himalayas has paler underparts; race koelzi of the eastern Himalayas has the female darker than in other races. Resident from Murree Hills to the Uttaranchal foothills extending to the Assam Valley, Arunachal Pradesh into the Lushai Hills.

Chestnut-vented nuthatch

The chestnut-vented nuthatch (Sitta nagaensis) is a species of bird in the nuthatch family.

It is found in south-eastern Asia from Tibet to southern Indochina. Its natural habitats are temperate forests, subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests, and subtropical or tropical moist montane forests.

Chinese nuthatch

The Chinese nuthatch or snowy-browed nuthatch (Sitta villosa) is a species of bird in the Sittidae family. It is found in China, North Korea, and South Korea.

Eastern rock nuthatch

The Persian nuthatch or the eastern rock-nuthatch (Sitta tephronota) is a species of bird in the Sittidae family. It is found in Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, India, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkey, and Turkmenistan.

Eurasian nuthatch

The Eurasian nuthatch or wood nuthatch (Sitta europaea) is a small passerine bird found throughout temperate Asia and in Europe, where its name is the nuthatch. Like other nuthatches, it is a short-tailed bird with a long bill, blue-grey upperparts and a black eye-stripe. It is a vocal bird with a repeated loud dwip call. There are more than 20 subspecies in three main groups; birds in the west of the range have orange-buff underparts and a white throat, those in Russia have whitish underparts, and those in the Far East have a similar appearance to European birds, but lack the white throat.

The preferred habitat is mature deciduous or mixed woodland with large, old trees, preferably oak. Pairs hold permanent territories, and nest in tree holes, usually old woodpecker nests, but sometimes natural cavities. If the entrance to the hole is too large, the female plasters it with mud to reduce its size, and often coats the inside of the cavity too. The 6–9 red-speckled white eggs are laid on a deep base of pine or other wood chips.

The Eurasian nuthatch eats mainly insects, particularly caterpillars and beetles, although in autumn and winter its diet is supplemented with nuts and seeds. The young are fed mainly on insects, with some seeds, food items mainly being found on tree trunks and large branches. The nuthatch can forage when descending trees head first, as well as when climbing. It readily visits bird tables, eating fatty man-made food items as well as seeds. It is an inveterate hoarder, storing food year-round. Its main natural predator is the Eurasian sparrowhawk.

Fragmentation of woodland can lead to local losses of breeding birds, but the species' range is still expanding. It has a large population and huge breeding area, and is therefore classified by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as being of least concern.

Kashmir nuthatch

The Kashmir nuthatch (Sitta cashmirensis) is a species of bird in the Sittidae family. It is found in the northernmost regions of the Indian subcontinent, primarily in the mid-altitudes of the Himalayas. The species ranges across Afghanistan, India, Nepal and Pakistan. The global population size has not been quantified, but the species is described as common in eastern Afghanistan and north-western India, and fairly common in Nepal (Harrap and Quinn 1996).

Nuthatch vanga

The nuthatch vanga (Hypositta corallirostris), also known as the coral-billed nuthatch-vanga and formerly as the coral-billed nuthatch, is a species of bird in the family Vangidae.

It is endemic to Madagascar.

Its natural habitat is subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests.

Przevalski's nuthatch

Przevalski's nuthatch (Sitta przewalskii), originally given the nomen nudum "Sitta eckloni", is a bird species in the Sittidae family, collectively known as nuthatches. Long regarded as a subspecies of the white-cheeked nuthatch (Sitta leucopsis), it nevertheless differs significantly in morphology and vocalizations. Both S. przewalskii and S. leucopsis have been regarded as closely related to the North American white-breasted nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis). It is a medium-sized nuthatch, measuring about 13 cm (5 in) in length. Its upper body is a dark gray-blue or slate color, becoming dark blue-black at the crown. The cheeks and throat are a white buff-orange, turning to a rich cinnamon on the underparts that intensifies in color on the sides of the breast. Vocalizations consist of alternating series of ascending whistles and short notes.

The bird is endemic to areas in southeastern Tibet and west central China, including eastern Qinghai, Gansu and Sichuan, inhabiting coniferous mountain forests of spruce or fir. The altitude at which it nests varies according to locality, but typically is from 2,250–4,500 m (7,380–14,760 ft). The species was first described in 1891 from a specimen collected in China's Haidong Prefecture. The common name and Latin binomial commemorate the Russian explorer Nikolay Przhevalsky, who discovered the species in 1884. Little is known about its ecology, which is probably comparable to that of the white-cheeked nuthatch.

It was given the rank of full species (separate from the white-cheeked nuthatch) in 2005 in Pamela C. Rasmussen's Birds of South Asia. The Ripley Guide. Other authorities followed suit, but as of 2014, S. przewalskii does not have a full threat-status evaluation by BirdLife International or the International Union for Conservation of Nature. A 2014 phylogenetic study of the species found it to be at the base of the nuthatch evolutionary tree out of 21 species examined, dispelling a hypothesis that S. przewalskii could belong to the same species as S. carolinensis.

Pygmy nuthatch

The pygmy nuthatch (Sitta pygmaea) is a tiny songbird, about 10 cm (4 inches) long and about 10 grams in weight. It ranges from southern British Columbia south through various discontinuous parts of the western U.S. (northwest U.S., Sierra Nevada range, southern Rockies, etc.), to central Mexico. It is usually found in pines (especially ponderosa pines), Douglas-firs, and other conifers. Pygmy nuthatches clamber acrobatically in the foliage of these trees, feeding on insects and seeds; less often they creep along limbs or the trunk like bigger nuthatches.

Pygmy nuthatches nest in cavities in dead stubs of conifers, lining the bottom of the cavity with pine-cone scales, plant down, and other soft plant and animal materials. They may fill cracks or crevices around the entrance with fur; the function of this behavior is unknown. The female lays 4–9 eggs, which are white with fine reddish-brown spotting. She does most of the incubation, which lasts about 16 days. The young leave the nest about 22 days after hatching.

This species is highly gregarious. A nesting pair may have other birds as helpers. Outside the breeding season, this bird wanders in noisy flocks. It also roosts communally; over 100 birds have been seen huddled in a single tree cavity.

All plumages are similar, with a warm gray cap, blue-gray upper-parts, and whitish underparts. The only feature not seen in the photograph is a whitish spot on the nape, particularly in worn plumage (summer). Vocalizations are highly varied chirps, peeps, and chattering.

This species is very similar to the brown-headed nuthatch of the southeastern U.S. Their ranges have no overlap.

The pygmy nuthatch features prominently in the climax of the 2000 film Charlie's Angels, in which Cameron Diaz's character, Natalie, discovers the location of the villains' fortress by identifying the call of the pygmy nuthatch, which she says only live in Carmel, California—though the bird shown is not a pygmy nuthatch, which in any case is found in a much wider range. (The Hollywood impostor is a Venezuelan troupial, Icterus icterus.)

Red-breasted nuthatch

The red-breasted nuthatch (Sitta canadensis) is a small songbird. The adult has blue-grey upperparts with cinnamon underparts, a white throat and face with a black stripe through the eyes, a straight grey bill and a black crown. Its call, which has been likened to a tin trumpet, is high-pitched and nasal. It breeds in coniferous forests across Canada, Alaska and the northeastern and western United States. Though often a permanent resident, it regularly irrupts further south if its food supply fails. There are records of vagrants occurring as far south as the Gulf Coast and northern Mexico. It forages on the trunks and large branches of trees, often descending head first, sometimes catching insects in flight. It eats mainly insects and seeds, especially from conifers. It excavates its nest in dead wood, often close to the ground, smearing the entrance with pitch.

USS Nuthatch (AM-60)

USS Nuthatch (AM-60) was an Auk-class minesweeper in the United States Navy.

Nuthatch was laid down at the Defoe Shipbuilding Company in Bay City, Michigan on 22 May 1942. She was launched on 16 September 1942, sponsored by Mrs. Charles D. Swain, and commissioned on 19 November 1942, with Commander D. D. Humphreys in command.

Velvet-fronted nuthatch

The velvet-fronted nuthatch (Sitta frontalis) is a small passerine bird in the nuthatch family Sittidae found in southern Asia from Nepal, India, Sri Lanka ‍and Bangladesh east to south China and Indonesia. Like other nuthatches, it feeds on insects in the bark of trees, foraging on the trunks and branches and their strongly clawed toes allow them to climb down tree trunks or move on the undersides of horizontal branches. They are found in forests with good tree cover and are often found along with other species in mixed-species foraging flocks. Adult males can be told apart by the black stripe that runs behind and above the eyes. They have a rapid chipping call note. They breed in tree cavities and holes, often created by woodpeckers or barbets.

Western rock nuthatch

The western rock nuthatch (Sitta neumayer) (sometimes known simply as rock nuthatch) is a small passerine bird which breeds from Croatia east through Greece and Turkey to Iran. This nuthatch is largely resident apart from some post-breeding dispersal. The eastern rock nuthatch Sitta tephronota is a separate species, which occurs further east in south-central Asia.

The western rock nuthatch is a bird associated with habitats with bare rocks, especially in mountainous areas. Those at the highest altitudes may move lower down in winter.

It feeds on insects and spiders in summer, supplemented with seeds and snails in winter. It feeds on the ground, and will wedge larger items in rock crevies while it hammers them open with its strong bill. It will also flycatch.

The western rock nuthatch is 13.5 cm long, slightly smaller than Eurasian nuthatch, and has the typical nuthatch big head, short tail and powerful bill and feet. It is long-legged and long-billed compared to most of its relatives.

The race S. n. neumayer of southeast Europe is dark grey above, and has a long strong black eyestripe. It has a white throat and underparts shading to buff on the belly. Sexes are similar, and young birds are slightly duller versions of the adults. Two other races in the west of its Asian range are similar but less well marked.

S.n. tschitscherini of western Iran is paler grey above and has a much weaker eyestripe. S.n. plumbea of southern Iran resembles tschitscherini, but has grey underparts.

This territorial species builds a flask-shaped nest from mud, dung and hair or feathers in a rock crevice, cave, or under an overhang on a rock face. Decorative items may be pushed into crevices and cracks near the entrance to the nest. The nest is lined with softer materials and the entrance is sealed with mud. 4-10 eggs are laid, and are white speckled with yellow.

The western rock nuthatch has a tsik call and a trilled tui tui tui song. It is common in suitable habitat in most of its range.

Pliny the Elder believed that it was these birds that inspired man to build homes of earth in imitation of the western rock nuthatch's nests.

White-breasted nuthatch

The white-breasted nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis) is a small songbird of the nuthatch family which breeds in old-growth woodland across much of temperate North America. It is a stocky bird, with a large head, short tail, powerful bill, and strong feet. The upperparts are pale blue-gray, and the face and underparts are white. It has a black cap and a chestnut lower belly. The nine subspecies differ mainly in the color of the body plumage.

Like other nuthatches, the white-breasted nuthatch forages for insects on trunks and branches and is able to move head-first down trees. Seeds form a substantial part of its winter diet, as do acorns and hickory nuts that were stored by the bird in the fall. The nest is in a hole in a tree, and the breeding pair may smear insects around the entrance as a deterrent to squirrels. Adults and young may be killed by hawks, owls, and snakes, and forest clearance may lead to local habitat loss, but this is a common species with no major conservation concerns over most of its range.

Yunnan nuthatch

The Yunnan nuthatch (Sitta yunnanensis) is a species of nuthatch endemic to South-Western China. It was first described by William Robert Ogilvie-Grant in 1900 based on a male holotype, and it occurs in pine forests at altitudes of up to 4,000 m (13,000 ft).

This blue-grey bird can be up to 12 centimetres (4.7 in) long, has a distinctive white eyebrow, and exhibits a small degree of sexual dimorphism. This noisy bird's diet consists of insects it finds on pine branches, and it is generally rare but can be locally common. Categorised as a near-threatened species on the IUCN Red List, it has a small range of 170,000 square kilometres (66,000 sq mi), and a 2009 study predicted that its population could decrease by 43.6% to 47.7% by between 2040 and 2069.

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