© Copyright: Images: Jari Peltomäki, Jari Hiltunen, M. & W. von Wright: Svenska fåglar (Kansalliskirjasto, The National Library of Finland). Recording: Jan-Erik Bruun. All rights reserved.


Sitta europaea

  • Name also: European Nuthatch, Wood Nuthatch
  • Family: Nuthatches – Sittidae
  • Appearance: An unusual looking small bird typically seen climbing on tree trunks. Climbs equally well with its head facing up or down. Upper parts bluish grey, underparts white. Narrow black eye stripe extends from beak to back of neck. Undertail coverts reddish brown with white tips.
  • Size: Length 12–14.5 cm, Weight 17–28 g.
  • Nest: In an old woodpecker’s hole. Females patch up the opening of the nest hole with clay to make it a suitably small size. Made of fragments of decaying wood, lined with pine bark fragments and dry leaves.
  • Breeding: 6–8 eggs laid April–May, incubated by female for 13–18 days. Young remain in nest for 23–26 days.
  • Distribution: Only occasionally nests in Finland, where breeding population estimated at 0–20 pairs. Birds seen in Finland may be of either the nominate race (which breeds in the Baltic Countries and Southern Sweden, or the eastern race (S. e. asiatica) which sometimes ranges into Finland in numbers, with a few birds subsequently staying here to nest.
  • Migration: May move to new areas between August and October. Will stay for the winter in areas where birds are fed, typically disappearing again by April.
  • Diet: Invertebrates, seeds, nuts, acorns. Will also visit bird tables.
  • Calls: A sharp “psee”, a quieter “psit psit psrit psrrt”, and also a clicking call.
  • Endangerment: Vulnerable, protected in Finland. Globally Least concern.

The Nuthatch is the only member of its genus or family found in Finland. These small, sturdy birds can climb on tree trunks and branches with great agility, facing either upwards or downwards. Their upper parts are bluish grey, and their underparts are white. A narrow black eye stripe runs from their beaks to their necks. Their undertail coverts are reddish brown with white tips. Birds of the nominate race have more extensive reddish brown colouring on their flanks. Birds of the more easterly race have white markings on their forehead and above their eye stripe. Nuthatches’ legs are brownish yellow, their beaks are dark grey, and their irises are dark brown.

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