Category Archives: Bird Identification

Brown-Headed Nuthatch Today

First, it helps to know I am speaking from Alabama.  Northern Alabama, just about 20 miles south of the Tennessee River. The setting is a residential area with some old oaks and pine trees clustered around a few homes, including mine.

I have seen nuthatches here before. I have become fascinated by the smaller Brown-headed Nuthatch, Sitta pusilla.
Since most of my birding days have been in northern or western climates this is a relatively new bird for me.

This little nuthatch is more the size of a chickadee than the white-breasted nuthatch that I am more familiar with.  It favors pine forests in the Southeast US.  There are about 5 tall pine trees in my neighbor’s yard and one snag that once was a water oak. I believe it is nesting in one of the cavities in the snag. 

According to the information at All About Birds, the Cornell University site, 

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.

They also may share their nest space with other brown-headed nuthatches, though no one knows yet if they are last year’s young or how they are connected.  

I found it fascinating to learn that they sometimes will use a small piece of bark to life another section of barck in search of food. I have observed other nuthatches stuffing sunflower seeds into cracks of tree bark as a food cache so this makes sense to me too.  I also like the fact that they are so close I do not even need to use binoculars for a terrific view.