Brown-headed Nuthatch (Sitta pusilla)

bhnutBrown-headed Nuthatch (Sitta pusilla)

By Carson Feather Whitmore

The brown-headed nuthatch is the smallest of the eastern nuthatches and makes its home in standing dead tree cavities and often in long-leaf pine forests where it can find adequate shelter and food seeds. Even when these areas are not being lost to development, management for fire suppression still results in a scarcity of appropriate habitat for this species. Unfortunately, as these iconic forests are lost, species like the Red-cockaded woodpecker and the brown-headed nuthatch are proportionally threatened.

Brown-headed_Nuthatch_s52-12-036_l_1The problem of the nuthatch is a classic one in conservation: their forests are being lost and replaced by buildings or maimed by poor forestry practices. Fortunately, there’s hope for the nuthatch and one fresh solution involves empowering the average person with a little space in their backyard or patio. Across the southeast, people are being encouraged to build nest houses in their backyards and patios. The simple plans can be found online and are a fun weekend project.

Once a nuthatch family has made a home in your yard, you can sit back and watch the fascinating behavior of these little birds. They have been known to use tools to collect and protect their food supply. In addition, young male relatives tend to stick around to feed the female and her young. In addition to the free entertainment, Another perk of co-habitating with a nuthatch family: they eat beetles, cockroaches, and spiders, and are a great way of keeping the bug population  from overtaking your home in the summertime.

Wild South works extensively across the regio,n from the mountains to the coast, to support increased long-leaf pine ecosystems which are perfect for housing thousands of wildlife species. Along with our partners like Mountain High Outfitters and ENO, we are able to put boots on the ground to steward and protect our wild places and provide a voice for the wild things that live in our Southern landscapes.

If you feel an alliance with these small yet feisty animals, you have several options to get involved:

  1. Install a nest box (one plan can be found here). You can even join a community of other nuthatch housers and become part of a regional movement.
  2. Keep your eye on for information about how to get involved with longleaf pine forest restoration.
  3. And finally, if you’re have a hankering to visit the brown-headed nuthatch in its remaining native habitat, stop by Mountain High Outfitters to find expert knowledge, gear, and like-minded folks.
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