Nuthatches are small birds that belong to the genus, Sitta. They are numerous members of the genus Sitta, and the nuthatch was first described by Carolus Linnaeus in 1758.
Most nuthatches live in temperate or montane woodlands in the Northern Hemisphere. Two of the nuthatch species have adapted to the rocky areas in the warmer and drier regions of Eurasia. However, this bird is most diverse in Southern Asia, where it is almost virtually impossible to distinguish the differences between the species if you are an amateur birdwatcher. Most species live in a crevice or hole where they place their nest all year round. They are non-migratory, except for the Red-breasted Nuthatch which migrates to warmer climates during the winter. In addition, some nuthatch species have a restricted range due to deforestation.
Boundaries of the nuthatches are also fairly difficult to define. For example, the Chinese, Corsican, and Red-breasted Nuthatch have breeding ranges that are seperated by thousands of kilometres. However, there are Nuthatches that live in similar habitats, have similar songs, and appearances. Examples of these are the Kruper and Algerian Nuthatches.
Nuthatches are small birds with short legs and compressed wings. They have 12 tail feathrers, which are squaish. However, their bills are long, sturdy, and pointed. They also have strong toes and long claws. All nuthatches have blue-grey backs, although some Asian species have violet-blue backs. They have white underparts, which have a tinge of either lilac, rufous, orange, or buff to it. They have headmarkings which vary between species. Juveniles in their first year can be almost indistinguishable from adult nuthatches.
As there are different varieties of nuthatches, they have different sizes. For example, the Giant Nuthatch is 195 mm long and weighs about 36 – 47 grams, while the Pygmy and Brown-headed Nuthatches are about 100mm long and weigh about 10 grams. Nuthatches are fairly vocal birds. They use an assortment of calls, trills, and whistles. Their breeding songs are simple and sound almost identical to their contact calls.
They are omnivorous creatures. They mostly eat seeds, nuts, and insects. They will forage for insects that are under bark by climbing along branches and tree trunks – sometimes even upside down. They may sometimes also join mixed feeding flocks.