Corsican Nuthatch (Sitta whiteheadi)

Corsican Nuthatch

[order] PASSERIFORMES | [family] Sittidae | [latin] Sitta whiteheadi | [UK] Corsican Nuthatch | [FR] Sittelle corse | [DE] Korsenkleiber | [ES] Trepador Corso | [NL] Coriscaanse Boomklever


Monotypic species

Physical charateristics

10-15% smaller and noticeably slighter than Nuthatch, with proportionately finest bill, longest-looking head (due to linear plumage pattern), and shortest tail of west Palearctic Sitta. Noticeably small, rather slight nuthatch. Essentially grey and white, adult ( having sharply demarcated black crown and eye-stripe contrasting dramatically with otherwise white face; outer tail-feathers black tipped white. ) has dusky-blue crown and eye-stripe.

Listen to the sound of Corsican Nuthatch

[audio: Nuthatch.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 21 cm wingspan max.: 22 cm
size min.: 12 cm size max.: 13 cm
incubation min.: 14 days incubation max.: 17 days
fledging min.: 22 days fledging max.: 17 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 5  
      eggs max.: 6  


Eurasia : Corsica


The Corsican nuthatch main habitat is the Corsican
pine forest. During breeding, birds forage mainly in trees, although one quarter fly-catch from a perch. During winter birds forage mainly in trees. During breeding, birds visit mainly branches, trunks and lichens when foraging
in vegetation. During winter, birds foraged mostly on pine cones, trunks and branches. The top was visited marginally, whereas the nuthatches foraged mainly in the following zones : centre of crown, transition trunk-crown, and periphery of the crown. This optimal use of resources in Corsican pine habitat allows the adult Corsican nuthatch to be sedentary.


Eggs are laid end of April to sstart of June. Usually large- or medium-sized Corsican pine, typically with only partial or no bark. No plastering of nest-hole. Foundation of pine needles, wood chips, or bark fragments lined with hair, plant fibres, feathers, moss, or lichen.
re-occupation of territories occurs very frequently and the birds often use the same nesting tree.
Clutch size 4-6 eggs, Incubation period not known, but hatching mid- to late May. Chicks fledge after 22-24 days.
There are no second clutches, but sometimes a replacement clutch is laid. Research found a correlation between the abundance of pine cones and the onset of breeding: the higher the number of cones available on the territories the previous winter, the earlier the breeding occurs.

Feeding habits

In winter, seems to feed mainly on seeds (especially Corsican pine) until May, then on insects and spiders until August. Caches food, almost exclusively seeds of Corsican pine, which are hidden behind bark or laid on thick branches and covered with small pieces of bark or lichen. Food-caching probably crucial for survival, when pine cones are closed in snow of early spring preventing access to seeds.


This species has been uplisted to Vulnerable because recent data has shown that its small population has declined in the last decade due to logging and fires reducing the amount of large, mature Corsican pine available. Although some forests are regenerating, the slow maturation time of the pine means that potential new habitat does not compensate for the loss of mature pines elsewhere, therefore it is assumed that the population will continue to decline.
Sitta whiteheadi is endemic to Europe, where it is confined to the island of Corsica
(France). Its European breeding population is small (as few as 1,500 pairs), but was
stable between 1970-1990. Although the species remained stable during 1990-2000,
its population size still renders it susceptible to the risks affecting small populations,
and consequently it is evaluated as Rare.
This bird is endemic to Corsica, where it inhabits almost exclusively old forests of indigenous conifers. Its population amounts 2.000-3.000 breeding pairs, and seems quite stable. The species remains vulnerable
Corsican Nuthatch status Vulnerable


Chiefly sedentary. Breeding pairs highly territorial throughout year.

Distribution map

Corsican Nuthatch distribution range map

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *