Red-breasted Nuthatch - Sitta canadensis

Length 4.5 in (11.4 cm)
Wingspan 8.5 in (21.6 cm)
Weight M: 0.4 oz (11 g), F: 0.4 oz (10 g)
Clutch Size 2-8
Chicks at birth Altricial
IUCN Conservation Status Least Concern

The Red-breasted Nuthatch's back and uppertail are bluish-gray, and the underparts rust-colored. They have a black cap and black eye line with a white supercilium (eyebrow). Their tail is short and square. Both sexes look similar, although the females and youngsters have duller heads and paler underparts.

They are one of the few birds to use tools. They use pieces of bark to scrape off bark on trees to get to the insects. They also use pieces of bark to apply pitch to the outside of their nests.

(For more information)

Diet: Red-breasted Nuthatches eat insects, seeds and nuts. They forage on the trunk and branches of trees. Unlike woodpeckers and creepers, they can climb down a tree head first looking for food. Their feet (three toes forward, one back) are short and sturdy with long toes and sharp claws. They will store seeds and invertebrates in bark crevices for later consumption.

They eat both the cracked sunflower seeds and suet in my yard.

Courtship: Red-breasted Nuthatches are monogamous. Males court females by turning their backs to them, singing, and swaying from side to side with crest feathers raised, or by flying together in an exaggerated display of slowly fluttering wings or long glides.

Nesting: Red-breasted Nuthatches excavate their own nests either in soft wooded trees or trees with rotten snags. They will also sometimes use old woodpecker holes. Both sexes will excavate the nest hold, but the female builds the nest inside. The nest is shaped like a cup and made from grass, needles, bark, moss, feathers, and hair. They coat the entrance to the nest hole with pitch. This may help to keep predators away. The number of eggs laid varies from 4-8.

Vocalization: No information.

Habitat and Range: The Red-breasted Nuthatch is found throughout most of North America except for the far north and Mexico.

Plumage/Molt: A complete molt after the breeding season (June-October), usually in the breeding area. Sometimes there may be a partial molting before the breeding season.

Migration: While not all Red-breasted Nuthatches migrate, they are the only Nuthatches that regularly migrate.

Tongue/feet: No information.


  • Harrap, Simon and David Quinn , Chickadees, Tits, Nuthatches & Treecreepers,Princeton University Press, 1995
  • Sibley, David Allen, The Sibley Guide to Bird Life & Behavior,Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2001
  • Seattle Audubon Society, Accessed June, 2012
  • The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Accessed June, 2012
  • The Free Encyclopedia, Accessed June, 2012

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