Male Eurasian Nuthatch
|22 species, see text|
The nuthatch family, Sittidae, traditionally contained 23 species. The subfamily Sittinae held the 22 species of “true” nuthatches, and the subfamily Tichodromadinae held a single species, the unique Wallcreeper, Tichodroma muraria, which is now separated in its own family, Tichodromadidae.
Most nuthatches are woodland birds, although a few species have adapted to rocky habitats. They have the unusual ability to climb down trees head first, unlike species such as woodpeckers which can only go upwards.
Nuthatches have big heads, short tails and powerful bills and feet. Their shape is distinctive, and all species are recognizable as nuthatches if one has been seen.
They are generally omnivorous, taking insects, nuts and seeds. Most are resident, but the Red-breasted Nuthatch migrates from the north of its range.
Nests are in holes or crevices. In some species the size of the hole is reduced by the building of a mud wall.
This group gets its name from the habit of the Eurasian Nuthatch of wedging a nut in a crevice in a tree, and then hacking at it with its strong bill.
The list of species below, all in the genus Sitta (Linnaeus, 1758), is probably the maximum. Some taxonomists consider that some of the indicated species are in fact conspecific.
- Eurasian Nuthatch, Sitta europaea
Chestnut-vented Nuthatch, Sitta nagaensis
Kashmir Nuthatch, Sitta cashmirensis
Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch, Sitta castanea
White-tailed Nuthatch, Sitta himalayensis
White-browed Nuthatch, Sitta victoriae
Pygmy Nuthatch, Sitta pygmaea
Brown-headed Nuthatch, Sitta pusilla
Corsican Nuthatch, Sitta whiteheadi
Algerian Nuthatch, Sitta ledanti
Krüper's Nuthatch, Sitta krueperi
Chinese Nuthatch, Sitta villosa
Yunnan Nuthatch, Sitta yunnanensis
Red-breasted Nuthatch, Sitta canadensis
White-cheeked Nuthatch, Sitta leucopsis
White-breasted Nuthatch, Sitta carolinensis
Western Rock Nuthatch, Sitta neumayer
Eastern Rock Nuthatch, Sitta tephronota
Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, Sitta frontalis
Yellow-billed Nuthatch, Sitta solangiae
Sulphur-billed Nuthatch, Sitta oenochlamys
Blue Nuthatch, Sitta azurea
Giant Nuthatch, Sitta magna
Beautiful Nuthatch, Sitta formosa
- Tits, Nuthatches and Treecreepers, Harrap and Quinn, ISBN 0-7136-3964-4
- The Nuthatches, Erik Matthysen, Academic Press 1998, ISBN 0-85661-101-8
- Nuthatch videos on the Internet Bird Collection