Nuthatch, Sitta europaea

Roz Wade, Learning Officer at the Museum, writes:

It is always fun watching the birds coming to the bird feeders in the garden. We find the fat blocks prove particularly popular. It is lovely to see the robins and blue tits taking a morsel of food, particularly now with new fledglings come to feed, but I get particularly excited when a nuthatch comes to visit.

Nuthatch at a bird feeder

Nuthatches are beautiful little birds, with a blue-grey back and pinky buff-coloured feathers on the breast, a pointed beak and black stripe across the eyes. But it is more than their colour that make them interesting – they are fascinating to watch. They are brilliant at climbing up and down tree trunks, searching for food. In the summer they will feed largely on insects, but in the winter nuts and seeds make up more of their diet. The name nuthatch comes from their habit of breaking open nuts by hammering them in crevices in trees.

These are birds of woodland areas and nest in holes in trees. They will occupy old woodpecker holes, using mud to make the entrance to the nest smaller to keep predators out. Here the garden backs onto a small wood, and we have been lucky this year not only to have adult nuthatches, but young ones as well coming to see us.

Here’s one of my favourite moments at the fat block this spring – a nuthatch at the bird feeder being pushed off by a baby blue tit!

Nuthatch and baby blue tit at a bird feeder

Which birds have you seen coming into your garden or local green space? We would love to see any photos of your wildlife spots, and you could feature in our online Community Gallery. Share your nature sightings with us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram by tagging us or using #OpenYourWindowBingo.

(c) John Howlett

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