Nuthatches are the only bird’s ability to climb not only up trees but also down them, headfirst. No other bird can move entrees with such versatility. The method employed differs from that of woodpeckers and tree creepers in that the tail is not used for support. When climbing the nuthatch’s feet are not parallel but one is placed high, from which to hang, and the other low, for support. The word “nuthatch” is derived from the fondness of the Eurasian species for hazelnuts.

The species belonging to the main genus, Sitta, are so similar in form and habits that they are easily recognized as nuthatches. They are mostly gray-blue above (blue-income tropical species) with long bills and short necks. All accept the Rock nuthatch and the Eastern rock nuthatch forage entrees, climbing around on trunks and thick branches.

The two sittellas, which are confined to Australia and New Guinea, are similar to the true nuthatches except that they build open nests in trees, never using holes. The Wall creeper is similar to the true nuthatches in color but has a bill shaped more like that of the tree creepers. It also lives in the high mountains of Europe and Asia whereas nuthatches generally prefer woods from high altitudes down to sea level.

The Eurasian nuthatch has the most extensive range of all nuthatches, being distributed from North Africa and Spain across to Japan. The White-breasted nuthatch breeds in North America and the Chestnut-breasted nuthatch, whose behavior is similar to that of the Eurasian species, throughout the Indian subcontinent. Other species have smaller, often isolated ranges. The Wall creeper, however, has a restricted habitat but is found in high mountains from Spain across Eurasia to the eastern Himalayas.

Only a few species are known to undertake migrations. The Red-breasted nuthatch migrates from the woods of Canada as fares the southern montage woodlands of North America. In some winters the east Siberian subspecies of the Eurasian nuthatch move west as far as Finland.

Most nuthatches eat insects and spiders: the Rock nuthatch also takes small snails. Nuthatches from more northern areas and also some of the small species, for example, the Corsican nuthatch, take tree seeds from the fall onwards and store them in bark crevices or under moss for later consumption. One pair of Eurasian nuthatches made a daily average of 921 collecting flights over three days, each time taking one or two sunflower seeds. The seed is hidden by covering it with bark or moss. When the young hatch they are fed, by all species. By both pparent-soninsects and spiders.

The true nuthatches are monogamous, each pair living in a territory that it will often defend throughout the year. The for-motion of new pairs takes place in the fall and through the winter, often in February. (In winter nuthatch pairs often associate feeding flocks with parties of tits.) All nuthatches of the genus Sitter are hole-nesters, some excavating their nest chambers in rotten wood.

Rock nuthatches make the nest chamber by closing up a rock niche with a hemispherical mud wall and entering through a specially constructed tube. Some nuthatches (egg the Eurasian nuthatch but also the Chestnut-breasted and White-tailed nuthatches) use mud to reduce the size of an entrance: the hole is covered until there is just enough space left to accommodate the width of the bird’s body. Using a similar technique all cracks and small openings in the cavity are sealed. In dry periods Rock nuthatches (and also other species in Asia) use animal dung as a ba building material, also caterpillars, other larvae, and insects that are squashed with the bill. Berries have also been founding walls made by Rock nuthatches.

The White-breasted nuthatch rubs insects around the entrance hole while the Red-breasted uses smeared resin as protection. Inside their holes, nuthatches construct nests. Various materials are used. The Eurasian nuthatch and its Asiatic relatives (such as the Chestnut-breasted and White-tailed nuthatches) make a nest of thin flakes of bark (mainly pine). Some species use fine grasses and feathers. The rock nuthatches use exclusively mammal hair and filaments. Often fragmented owl pellets. North AAmericannuthatches also use bark and animal hair.

Most pairs produce just a single brood during the breeding season, which is incubated by the female alone. During the incubation period, the male brings food to forth female. Both adults feed the young. The young can fly and climb well by the time they fledge. At this point, they require just one week to become independent.

See more: Tree Creepers

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