Sitta canadensis
(Red-breasted Nuthatch)

Order: Passeriformes
Order Description: Passerines
Family: Sittidae
Family Description: Nuthatches

Physical Description:
4 1/2-4 3/4" (11-12 cm). Slate- to blue-gray back, wings, and tail; black and white striped head; rusty below.

Similar Species- White-breasted and Pygmy nuthatches.

A high, nasal yaank yaank yaank; referred to as sounding like a tin horn.

Breeds from southern Alaska, east across portions of Canada, and south to southern California, southern New Mexico, western South Dakota, Minnesota, northern Ohio, southern Appalachians, and in isolated areas farther south. Winters throughout most of breeding range and irregularly in Gulf Coast.

Found in coniferousClick word for definition and mixed forests and aspen woodlands. During migrationClick word for definition and in winter, also found in deciduousClick word for definition forests, open woodlands, parks, scrub, and riparianClick word for definition woodlands. Preliminary results of an Idaho-Montana study indicated these birds favored rotation-aged Douglas fir stands over old-growth stands.

Eats mainly conifer seeds and insects.

Nests in excavated cavity in standing snag or hollow tree. Forages over trunks and branches.

clutchClick word for definition size varies from 4-7 eggs, but is usually 5-6. Incubation lasts 12 days. Young are tended by both parents, and leave nest at 18-21 days.

Element Code: ABPAZ01010
Status: Protected nongame species
Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S5
National Rank: N5

Important State References:
Hejl, S.J. and R.E. Woods. 1990. Bird assemblages in old-growth and rotation-aged Douglas-fir/Ponderosa pine stands in the northern Rocky Mountains: a preliminary assessment. Pp. 93-100 in D.M. Baumgartner and J.E. Lotan, eds., Proceedings of a Symposium on Interior Douglas-fir: the species and its management. Feb. 27, 1990, Spokane WA.

Photo by Marcus Martin, 1999.
Design by Ean Harker©1999, 2000.
Written by Jason Karl, 2000.