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Pygmy Nuthatch

Sitta pygmaea

Length: 4.25 inches Wingspan: 8 inches Seasonality: All Seasons
ID Keys: Grayish-brown cap, gray upperparts, light underparts, white cheeks and chin

Pygmy Nuthatch - Sitta pygmaeaSociable birds, Pygmy Nuthatches are most often seen in small groups as they forage for pine seeds and insects.  Their social behavior extends to the breeding season, when nests may have "helper" birds which assist the mating pair in bringing food to the young.  Rarely found away from pine forests of the western U.S., they are typically only found in the Black Hills in South Dakota.

Habitat: Found primarily in ponderosa pine forests.  They can also occasionally be found in other types of pine forests, in pinyon-juniper woodlands, and in redwood canyons.  

Diet: Primarily feeds on insects in the summer.  The winter diet includes many seeds, especially pine seeds.  

Behavior: Usually feeds quite high in pine trees, climbing along main trunks and branches as well as the tips of the branches.  Will also sometimes observe from a perch and fly out to catch passing insects.

Nesting: April through June

Song: Wide variety of warning and flight calls, often given in near-unison as small groups move. 

Migration: Generally a permanent resident throughout their range, but may move to lower elevations in years with a poor pine-seed crop.  

Interactive eBird Map: Click here to access an interactive eBird map of Pygmy Nuthatch sightings

Similar Species: Red-breasted Nuthatch, White-breasted Nuthatch, Brown-headed Nuthatch

Feeders: Will attend feeders for various nuts and seeds

Conservation Status: Generally stable, although local declines evident in areas of heavy logging. 

Further Information: 1) Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter, Pygmy Nuthatch

2) WhatBird - Pygmy Nuthatch

3) Audubon Guide - Pygmy Nuthatch

Photo Information: September 9th, 2006 - Near Greer, Arizona - Terry Sohl

Additional Photos: Click on the image chips or text links below for additional, higher-resolution Pygmy Nuthatch photos.


Click on the map below for a higher-resolution view
Pygmy Nuthatch - Range Map
South Dakota Status: Rare permanent resident in the Black Hills.

Additional Pygmy Nuthatch Photos
Click for a higher-resolution version of these photos
 Pygmy Nuthatch - Sitta pygmaea