Five fun nuthatch facts

Now that the leaves are falling you might be lucky enough to spot a Nuthatch (Sitta europaea) hunting insects on a tree trunk. Here are five interesting things about nuthatches.

One

Nuthatches cache seeds during the winter. They are usually insectivores but will eat seeds if insects are scarce and they will cache the seeds in the crevices in a tree’s bark. They have been seen to cover up the hiding place with lichen or pieces of moss.

Two

Nuthatches are the only bird that can walk head first down a tree. They have very strong legs and their rear, backward pointing toes are especially enlarged.

Nuthatch by Smudge 9000 (CC BY-SA 2.0) from Wikimedia Commons

Three

Nuthatches fly to the top of a tree trunk and work their way downwards whereas a tree creeper flies to the bottom of the tree and works its way upwards.

Four

Nuthatches are monogamous.

Five

They have been observed, not only using a piece of wood or bark as a lever to open crevices when they are hunting for insect food, but carrying the lever from one tree to the next. Tool use is very unusual in small bird species.

Nuthatch (Sitta_europaea) by Frank Vassen (CC BY 2.0) Wikimedia

Header picture: Eurasian Nuthatch (Sitta europaea) by Lawrie Phipps (CC BY 2.0) wikimedia

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