Pygmy Nuthatch
Pygmy Nuthatch
Sitta pygmaea

Family: Sittidae

The Pygmy Nuthatch is the smallest of the North American nuthatches at 3 3/4-4 1/2" in length. It resembles the brown-headed nuthatch in plumage and habits with the sexes alike. The gray-brown cap extends down to the eyes, blue-gray back, white nape spot (which is difficult to see), whitish underparts and outer tail feathers.

This bird spends most of it's life in ponderosa pines up to 10,000 feet elevation in the Rockies and in other pines of the Pacific coast. Like all nuthatches, they work their way up and down a tree trunk searching for grubs and insects in the bark crevices that other up-climbing tree foragers, such as the woodpecker, would miss. The pygmy nuthatch uses short hops over branches, outermost twigs and pine cones. In the fall, pygmies gather in small flocks and troop through the forests with titmice, warblers, creepers and mountain chickadees.


You can hear this bird by it's ti-di, ti-di, ti-di or soft kit, kit, kit and they constantly twitter.


Patchily distributed through the Rockies and other mountainous and foothill areas.


Both male and female dig with their bills a small circular hole and cavity usually near the top of a dead pine or upright post anywhere from 8-60 feet up. Sometimes they will build the cavity on the underside of a branch or use a woodpecker hole. These birds will almost always build in a natural environment, but there have been some reported instances where they have used a man-made bird box. The cavity/nest is lined with pine cone scales, plant down, leaves, fur and feathers. Throughout the months of April and May, as many as 8 white, speckled reddish brown, eggs are laid. Incubation is mostly done by the female and eggs hatch in 15 1/2 to 16 days. The first young bird leaves the nest approximately 22 days after hatching.

Natural Feeding Habits:

The pygmy nuthatch searches for food on branches, outermost twigs, pine cones and tree trunks for wasps, ants, spittle insects, beetles, moths, caterpillars, grasshoppers, spiders and pine seeds.

Feeding Stations:

Rarely comes to feeding stations, but will feed on suet, chopped kernels of walnuts, pecans, peanuts and sunflower seeds.

Other Names:

Other names for the Pygmy Nuthatch are; Black-eared Nuthatch; Nevada Nuthatch, Pine Nuthatch and White-naped Nuthatch.

Home | Site Introduction | Survival Needs | Bird Identifications | Gallery & Profiles
Habitats of Birds | Bird Migration | Odds & Ends | Birds and Nature Magazine | Resources | Search