- 3.9–4.3 in
- 6.3–7.1 in
- 0.4 oz
- Sitelle à tête brune (French)
- Sita del Pinar (Spanish)
- Tool use in birds is rare, but the Brown-headed Nuthatch will use a piece of bark as a lever to pry up other bark to look for food. It may carry the bark tool from tree to tree, and may use it to cover a seed cache.
- Nests of Brown-headed Nuthatches are regularly attended by extra birds, usually young males. Whether these helpers-at-the-nest are older offspring of the breeding pair is not yet known.
- The Brown-headed Nuthatch may sleep in a tree cavity or in the open on pine branches. The female or the breeding pair roosts in the nest cavity before the eggs are laid and throughout the nestling period.
- The Brown-headed Nuthatch often joins mixed species foraging flocks in winter. In these flocks the nuthatch appears to compete for food with the Pine Warbler, another pine specialist species. The two birds displace each other from the preferred foraging spots, with the nuthatch attacking the warbler just as frequently as the warbler attacks the nuthatch.
- The oldest recorded Brown-headed Nuthatch was at least 5 years, 9 months old, when it was recaptured during banding operations in Alabama.
Pine forests, especially in open, mature forests with periodic fires.
Insects and pine seeds.
- Clutch Size
- 3–9 eggs
- Egg Description
- White or buffy, with reddish brown spots evenly distributed over egg or concentrated as blotches at large end.
- Condition at Hatching
- Helpless and with some down.
Nests in holes in trees, usually dead trees. Will use nest box. Nest made primarily of pine seed wings, with bark shreds, Spanish moss, grass rootlets, fur, feathers, and other soft material.
Forages in pines, throughout the entire tree, but especially in upper third of trees. Gleans from foliage, probes in cracks and open pinecones, pries into crevices. Scales off loose bark, and may use flakes of bark as a tool to pry off bark. Takes seeds and other large food to hammering sites at the base of large limbs to peck seed open.
Brown-headed Nuthatch populations declined by about 24% between 1966 and 2014, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey. Partners in Flight estimates a global breeding population of 1.1 million, with 100% living in the U.S. They are a U.S.-Canada Stewardship species and rate a 13 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score. They are not on the 2014 State of the Birds Watch List. Populations are declining due to habitat degradation. The population on Grand Bahama Island, which is possibly a distinct subspecies, is nearly gone, probably the result of logging.
- Withgott, J. H., and K. G. Smith. 1998. Brown-headed Nuthatch (Sitta pusilla). In The Birds of North America, No. 349 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Birds of North America, Inc., Philadelphia, PA.
- North American Bird Conservation Initiative, U.S. Committee. 2014. State of the Birds 2014 Report. U.S. Department of Interior, Washington, DC.
- Partners in Flight. 2012. Species assessment database.
- USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center. 2015. Longevity records of North American Birds.
- USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center. 2014. North American Breeding Bird Survey 1966–2014 Analysis.