Sitta europaea caesia Wolf, 1810
Sitta europaea caesia Wolf, 1810
Common names: Eurasian nuthatch, Wood nuthatch [En], Sittelle torchepot [Fr], Boomklever [Nl], Kleiber [De], Picchio muratore [It], Trepador azul [Es], Δεντροτσοπανάκος [Gr], Bayağı sıvacı kuşu [Tu], Csuszka [Hu]
IUCN Status: LC (Least Concern)
Margaret Island (Margit-sziget), BUDAPEST ● Hungary
Description: It is a short-tailed bird with a long bill, blue-grey upperparts and a black eye-stripe.
The adult male of the nominate subspecies, S. e. europaea, is 14 cm long with a 22.5–27 cm wingspan. It has blue-grey upperparts, a black eye-stripe and whitish throat and underparts. The flanks and lower belly are orange-red, mottled with white on the undertail. The stout bill is dark grey with a paler area on the base of the lower mandible, the iris is dark S. e. caesia, the most widespread of the western subspecies, has orange-buff underparts except for a white throat and cheeks.
The female is similar in appearance to the male, but may be identified by her slightly paler upperparts, a browner eyestripe and a more washed-out tone to the flanks and lower belly. Young birds resemble the female, although their plumage is duller and they have paler legs.
There are more than 20 subspecies, but the precise number is disputed. These taxa can be divided into three main groups; these may have been geographically isolated from each other until relatively recently. Birds of intermediate appearance occur where the group ranges overlap.
caesia group – Buff breast, white throat – Most of Europe, North Africa, Middle East: S. e. caesia, S. e. hispaniensis, S. e. cisalpina, S. e. levantina, S. e. persica, S. e. rubiginosa, S. e. caucasica
europaea group – White breast – Scandinavia and Russia east to Japan and northern China: S. e. europaea, S. e. asiatica, S. e. arctica, S. e. baicalensis, S. e. albifrons, S. e. sakhalinensis, S. e. takatsukasai, S. e. clara, S. e. amurensis, S. e. hondoensis, S. e. roseilia, S. e. bedfordi, S. e. seorsa
sinensis group – Buff breast and throat - South and east China, Taiwan: S. e. sinensis, S. e. formosana
Biology: The Eurasian nuthatch eats mainly insects, particularly caterpillar and beetles. In autumn and winter, the diet is supplemented with nuts and seeds, hazel nuts and beech mast being preferred. The young are fed mainly on the insects favoured by their parents, with some seeds.
Plant food is stored year-round, but mainly in autumn. Individual seeds are hidden in cracks in bark, occasionally in walls or in the ground. The food item is usually concealed with lichen, moss or small pieces of bark. The cached food is retrieved in cold weather.
Nuthatches are monogamous, and a pair occupies a breeding territory in which it spends the winter as well. Despite the lifelong pairing, genetic research in Germany showed that at least 10% of the young in the study area were fathered by another male, usually from an adjacent territory.
The nest is in a tree cavity, usually an old woodpecker hole, but sometimes of natural origin. Occasionally the female will enlarge an existing hole in rotten wood. If the entrance to the hole is too large, it is plastered with mud, clay and sometimes dung to make it smaller. starlings. The female undertakes most of the work, and often plasters the inside of the cavity too, taking up to four weeks to complete the construction. A nest is often re-used in subsequent years.
The clutch is usually 6–9 red-speckled white eggs. The female incubates the eggs for 13–18 days to hatching, and broods the altricial downy chicks until they fledge 20–26 days later. Both adults feed the chicks in the nest and continue after they fledge until they become independent in about 8–14 days. Normally only one brood is raised each year.
Habitat: The preferred habitat is mature woodland with large, old trees, which provide extensive growth for foraging and nesting holes. In Europe, deciduous or mixed forest is favoured, particularly when containing oak. Parks, old orchards and other wooded habitats may be occupied. Particularly in mountains, old spruce and pine forests are used, and pine is also favoured in Taiwan. In most of Russia, conifers are used for nesting, but population densities are relatively low. Moroccan birds nest in oak, Atlas cedar and fir. Unusual habitats include dwarf juniper in Mongolia and rocky terrain in a limited part of southern Siberia.
The Eurasian nuthatch is primarily a lowland bird in the north of its range, but reaches the tree-line in Switzerland, at 1,200 m or higher, and breeds occasionally at 1,800–2,100 m in Austria. It breeds at similar levels in the mountains of Turkey, the Middle East and Central Asia. It is mainly a mountain bird in southern Japan, 760–2,100 m, and Taiwan, 800–3,300 m, but in southern China, the chestnut-vented nuthatch is the highland species, with the Eurasian species at lower levels.
Distribution: The Eurasian nuthatch’s breeding range extends across temperate Eurasia from Great Britain (but not Ireland) to Japan. It breeds south to the Mediterranean in Europe, although it is absent from the islands, other than Sicily, and in most of Russia the southern boundary is around 54–55°N. In the east, the range includes most of China and Taiwan and much of Korea.
Wikipedia, Eurasian nuthatch