British wildlife recordings
Sitta europaea : Nuthatch - Sittidae
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Torquay, Devon: OS Grid Reference(291500,65500)
Nuthatch, Sitta europaea
The call of the nuthatch, recorded at Torquay, Devon. This small but beautiful tree-climbing bird is never seen far from the large, mature trees that provide it with food and accommodation throughout the year. It is easily identified by its blue-grey upperparts as it clambers up and down branches and tree-trunks, particularly as it is the only British species that descends a tree-trunk headfirst. This technique enables the nuthatch to glean insects, larvae, and spiders during the summer months. During the winter however, beech-mast, acorns and hazelnuts are often wedged into a crevice and smashed open with its chisel-like bill. Breeding starts early, with the male singing from December, but nuthatches are not just heard during the breeding season and they tend to be very vocal most of the year. The loud 'tuit-tuit-tuit' call of this anti-social and territorial bird is a very distinctive component of any woodland or mature garden. The nuthatch nests in natural holes in trees but will also utilise nest-boxes. Once a suitable nest site is located, the female will often prevent larger birds from entering by reducing the size of the entrance hole with mud. The nuthatch has a widespread distribution in England and Wales and is just starting to spread into southern Scotland and at present there are 130,000 pairs breeding in Britain.