Length: 14 cm
The male and female have like plumage. The young are greyer.
Voice: In early spring a loud whistling that sounds like ‘chwit-chwit- chwit’, courting note ‘tsit-tsit’, or a long trilling ‘chi-chi-chi’ or ‘qui-qui-qui-qui’.
Size of Egg: 17.2 – 22.5 x 13.5 – 15.4 mm.
The nuthatch is a common bird of thin deciduous, mixed and coniferous woods, as well as parks and large gardens. It is found throughout all of Europe, except Ireland and northern Scandinavia. It is a resident bird, remaining in its breeding grounds throughout the winter, when it may often be seen in the vicinity of houses, where it visits window- box feeders.
Sunflower seeds are its favourite food. Picking one up in its beak it will fly off with it to a nearby branch, where it wedges it in the bark, cracks the seed coat and swallows the kernel, after which it flies back again to the feeder for another. In spring, either at the end of April or the beginning of May, the female lays 6 to 10 eggs in tree cavities lined with pine bark chips or dead leaves.
The nuthatch will often venture several hundred metres from the nest. If the entrance is too large the female narrows it by plastering the edges of the hole with small pellets of mud mixed with mucous secretions, which she then smooths with her beak. The eggs are incubated by the hen alone for 13 to 14 days, but both parents share the duties of feeding the young. The male sleeps in another cavity nearby, having first ensured that his mate is comfortably settled for the night.
The young leave the nest after 22 to 24 days and soon learn to clamber up and down tree trunks with great adroitness, like their parents, hunting insects and spiders in the bark, often head downwards. In winter they also feed on seeds, which they often store in cracks.