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Red-breasted Nuthatch Sitta canadensis


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Red-breasted Nuthatch
credit: Wolfgang Wander/CCSA

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

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Family: Sittidae, Nuthatches view all from this family

Description ADULT MALE Has blue-gray back, wings, and tail. Head is marked with black crown and eyestripe, and white supercilium, cheeks, and chin. Throat and rest of underparts are reddish buff. ADULT FEMALE Similar, but black elements of head plumage are paler and underparts are paler orange-buff. JUVENILE Similar to respective sex adult, but with brownish wing feathers.

Dimensions Length: 4 1/2 -4 3/4" (11-12 cm)

Habitat Widespread and common in coniferous forests. Present year-round in many areas, but northern populations migrate south in fall and many others periodically undertake irruptive movements (some long distance), presumably in response to food shortages.

Observation Tips Often first detected by its distinctive call.

Range Alaska, New England, California, Eastern Canada, Plains, Western Canada, Northwest, Mid-Atlantic, Texas, Southeast, Florida, Rocky Mountains, Southwest, Great Lakes

Voice Song is a series of nasal errn notes, similar to its nasal call, which is reminiscent of a toy trumpet.

Discussion Colorful and well-marked nuthatch with a compact, plump body and slender, pointed bill. Joins roving mixed-species flocks of small birds outside the breeding season. Sexes are separable with care.