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Farbrook Farm


Sitta europaeaNuthatch

If you spot a small, stocky, bird climbing down a tree headfirst, then you’ve found a Nuthatch.  It’s the only bird that moves this way.  The Nuthatch gets its name from its habit of wedging nuts in the bark of a tree, and using its ‘hatchet’ bill to split them open.  The noise this makes is often mistaken for a woodpecker, but don’t be fooled!

Description: The Nuthatch is about 5 ½ in (13.3cm) long, about the same size as a Great Tit.  It is stocky, with a long black bill, blue-grey upperparts, buff underparts, a white throat and black stripe on its head.  Both sexes are similar.  It is often seen climbing up or down trees.  The Nuthatch has a wide range of calls and songs, especially during the breeding season.  They sometimes move in small flocks, though a resident pair will fiercely defend its territory in winter.

Nesting and breeding: The nest is always a hole in a tree or nest box, often with the entrance plastered with mud to keep out larger birds.  It is filled with leaves and bark.  Between late April and May the female lays 6-10 white eggs, speckled with red-brown.  The eggs are incubated by the female for 14 days, and both parents feed the fledglings until they fly after about 24 days.  

Where to see them

  • Nuthatches are present all year round in southern and central England and Wales, and have recently started to breed in northern England and even Scotland
  • They rarely travel far from the woods where they hatched
  • Their habitat is mixed and deciduous woodland, parkland and large gardens.  In fact, anywhere with large, mature trees  
  • What they eat

  • Nuthatches mainly feed in trees on nuts, beech-mast, acorns, berries, insects and spiders  
  • They also drop to the ground to feed on insects and fallen nuts and berries
  • Although somewhat elusive, Nuthatches will visit gardens to feed from peanut feeders and take mealworms from the ground or birdtable
  • Recommended Farbrook Farm foods: Dried Mealworms, Peanuts
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