Red Breasted Nuthatch

Order: Passeriformes
Family: Sittidae
Genus: Sitta
Species: canadensis

La. passer  sparrow, small bird
La. forma  form, kind, species
Gr. sitte  woodpecker like bird
      mentioned by Aristotle
La. canadensis  for Canada

Red Breasted Nuthatch, Louis Agassiz Fuertes, Birds of America, 1917
Louis Agassiz Fuertes
Four to five inches long. Black crown, brown wings and tail. White brow and thin white strip from above the base of the beak, above the eye, to the back of the head. White throat and cheeks. Gray back. Light rusty red or gold underside.


USGS Red-breasted Nuthatch Map

Lives in coniferous and mixed forests throughout the West Coast and Rocky Mountain States, most of Canada and southern Alaska, the Great Lakes region, and from Nova Scotia and New Brunswick to Appalachia. Varying numbers may migrate moderate distances depending on each season's pine cone crop, as far as southern US or northern Mexico.

Builds grass nests in natural or abandon woodpecker cavities or birdhouses from a few feet to well out of reach.

Lays four to six, more or less, creamy white speckled eggs which hatch after about two weeks incubation and young leave the nest in about another three weeks.

Smears sticky tree pitch (sap) around the outside of their cavity entrances.

Red Breasted Nuthatch, Ernest Seton Thompson, Bird Life, Frank M. Chapman, 1920

Ernest Seton Thompson

Runs about, down, up, and underneath coniferous (pine and spruce) tree limbs foraging for insects and spiders inhabiting bark crevices. Eats pine seeds and is attracted to suet feeders.

Secures nuts in the cracks of bark so it may hammer them apart or for later retrieval. Nuthatches feed with chickadees and titmice at feeders.

The Red-breasted Nuthatch Birdhouse (same as for the White-breasted Nuthatchs, Chickadees, Titmice and Downy Woodpeckers) has a 4" by 4" floor, 9" inside ceiling, 1 1/4" diameter entrance hole located 7" above the floor, ventilation openings, hinged roof secured with shutter hooks and is assembled with screws.

Mount nest box on a tree trunk about eye level or just out of reach, up to 15 feet if necessary.

Chickadees, titmice, wrens, downy woodpeckers and other nuthatches may use this box.

Nestbox Plans for Chickadees, Nuthatches, Titmice and Downy Woodpeckers
Red-breasted Nuthatch
Nest Box Plans


Because nuthatches commonly nest in natural or abandon cavities, or excavate their own cavities, a few chips on the nest box floor are fitting. Make more attractive to nuthatches by fixing bark with nails or glue to the nest box exterior.


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