Key facts

Scientific name: Sitta europaea

Status: Resident breeding species

Breeding birds: 220,000 territories

Conservation status: Green

Length: 14 cm

Wingspan: 22 – 27 cm

Weight: 20 – 25 g


Adult male nuthatches have blue-grey upperparts, with darker flight feathers. They have buff-white underparts with rufous flanks and vent. Their undertail coverts are mottled rufous with a white patch. They have grey underwings with black primary coverts.

Nuthatches have blue-grey crowns and foreheads and a conspicuous black eye-stripe that begins at the upper base of the bill and continues into the back of the nape. They have white cheeks and chins and the sides of their necks are buff-white

Nuthatches have stout dark grey bills, dark brown eyes and brown or yellow legs and feet.

Female nuthatches are similar males except they are duller and have brown eye-stripes.

Juveniles resemble the female but are paler.


Nuthatches start breeding in April or May. They build their nests in cavities in trees or abandoned woodpeckers’ nests. If the entrance is too large nuthatches will plug it with mud and they also plaster the walls for protection against bad weather.

The interior of the cavity is lined with wood chips and bark and occasionally with softer materials such as leaves and moss.  Female nuthatches build the nest alone.

Nuthatches lay 5-9 white eggs which have reddish markings. They are incubated by the female alone for 13-18 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and they fledge at 19-29 days.

Nuthatches usually produce one brood a season but sometimes two.


Nuthatches eat insects, nuts, acorns, and seeds. They will also sometimes eat sap and flower buds, and in the winter they will visit bird feeders.


Where to see them

Nuthatches can be found in woods and parklands throughout England and Wales. They are occasionally spotted in southern Scotland. Nuthatches will also come into gardens in search of food.


Bodo Sonnenburg/xeno-canto

Did you know?

The nuthatch is the only tree climbing bird that can move downwards head-first as well as upwards.

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