Brown-headed Nuthatch (Sitta pusilla)

Brown-headed Nuthatch

[order] PASSERIFORMES | [family] Sittidae | [latin] Sitta pusilla | [UK] Brown-headed Nuthatch | [FR] Sittelle a tete brune | [DE] Braunkopf-Kleiber | [ES] Sita del Pinar | [NL] Bruinkopboomklever


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range
Sitta pusilla NA se USA
Sitta pusilla insularis
Sitta pusilla pusilla

Physical charateristics

A dwarf nuthatch of the southeastern pinelands. Smaller than the White-breast, with a brown cap coming down to the eye and a pale or whitish spot on the nape. Travels in groups.

Listen to the sound of Brown-headed Nuthatch

[audio: Nuthatch.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 16 cm wingspan max.: 18 cm
size min.: 10 cm size max.: 11 cm
incubation min.: 13 days incubation max.: 14 days
fledging min.: 18 days fledging max.: 19 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 3  
      eggs max.: 9  


North America : Southeast USA


Open pine woods. Pine species (such as loblolly, longleaf, slash, and pond pines) virtually always present in habitat; also other conifers including baldcypress and
Atlantic white-cedar. Often in pine woods mixed with deciduous trees such as sweetgum, oak, hickory, or sycamore.


Some nests aided by “helper,” an additional male that brings food to female on nest, also to young.
Both sexes help excavate nest cavity in dead tree, usually in pine, sometimes in deciduous tree or fence post near pine forest. Pair may begin several excavations before completing one for nest. Will also use birdhouses, old woodpecker holes. Nest sites
average about 5′ above ground, rarely more than 15′ high. Nest in cavity made of grass, bark fibers, hair, feathers, also “wings” of pine seeds.
Eggs: Usually 4-6, sometimes 3-7. White, marked with reddish brown. Typically 4-5 eggs in Florida, 5-
6 elsewhere. Female incubates, about 14 days. Male brings food to female during incubation; male roosts in nest with female and eggs at night.
Young: Both parents feed young (and so does additional “helper” at some nests). Young leave nest in 18-19 days. Usually 1 brood per year, rarely 2.

Feeding habits

Mostly insects and seeds. Eats more insects and spiders in summer, more seeds (mainly pine seeds) in winter.
Forages mainly on trunk and large limbs of pines, also on higher branches and twigs. Males may forage lower than females, descending on trunks almost to ground. May use a chip of bark as a tool to pry off other pieces of bark while searching for insects.
Sometimes catches flying insects in the air. May store seeds in bark crevices.


This species has a very large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Brown-headed Nuthatch status Least Concern


Southeastern United States.
Migration: Mostly a permanent resident, very rarely wanders north.

Distribution map

Brown-headed Nuthatch distribution range map

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