Monday, January 21, 2013

The Eurasian Nuthatch / Spætmejse


The Eurasian Nuthatch (Sitta europaea) is a small passerine found throughout temperate Europe and Asia. It is spread from southern Scandinavia to Middle and South Europe and through Russia and Sibiria to the Pacific coast - further south to China, southeast Asia and India. It belongs to the nuthatch family Sittidae. This bird is the most common and most widespread nuthatch, and  is often referred to just as the Nuthatch. It is a resident  bird of deciduous woods and parkland, with some old trees for nesting. It feeds on insects, seeds and nuts. Its old name “nut-hack” derives from its habit of wedging a nut in a crevice in a tree, and then hacking at it with its strong bill. Nests are in holes or crevices, lined with bark or grass. The size of the hole’s entrance may be reduced by the building of a neat mud wall. Five to eight eggs are laid, white speckled with red.

The Eurasian Nuthatch is 14 cm long and has the typical nuthatch big head, short tail and powerful bill and feet. It is blue-grey above, with a black eyestripe. Asian and north European birds (S. e. asiatica and S. e. europaea respectively) are white below except for chestnut in the vent area. The western European S. e. caesia has generally reddish underparts. Young birds are "washed out" versions of the adults.

This is a noisy bird, often located by its repeated tui-tui-tui call. It has the ability, like other nuthatches, to climb down trees, unlike species such as woodpeckers which can only go upwards. It will come to bird feeding tables and is then very aggressive, driving other species away.

old oak in park


In  Denmark
The Nuthatch (Danish: Spætmejse) (Sitta europaea), ab.15 cm, is a common breeding bird in Denmark in old deciduous forests and parks. The Danish name Spætmejse indicates that it is a Tit = Mejse, but it belongs to its own family, Sittidae. In Denmark are two under-species : east of Storebælt is a light- bellied race (Sitta europaea) and upon the island Funen and in Jutland a dark-bellied race (Sitta. e caesia) with rusty red breast and belly. The nuthatch is the only Danish bird which climbs both up and down the trees.

The voice of the nuthatch is strong and varied. It breeds in holes in old trees or takes over holes from the woodpecker. Old trees with holes are rare in most forests, so there is a great competition among the birds, which nest in old trees, like among tits, starlings and flyecatchers. In order to avoid the competition from larger birds the nuthatch makes the hole smaller by pasting it with clay, until the size fits its own nest. The nuthatch feeds especially on insects, spiders and other little animals - in autumn and winter it feeds on seeds, nuts, fruits from beech and oak. The nuthatch put the nuts in cracks in the bark and hammers hole in it with its strong beak. In this connection it uses all its bodyweight and the advantage of being able to move with its head downwards.


The Nuthatch is in Denmark especially found in East Jutland and on the Isles where there are many suitable areas with deciduous forests. It is especially numerous in Jægersborg Dyrehave and Gribskov at Zealand and in Rold Skov, Fussingø Skov and Tofte Skov in East Jutland. The nuthatch is common, except in parts of West and North Jutland where there are no old deciduous forests with suitable holes for nests. 

Fugle og Natur, Dansk Ornitologisk Forening; Gyldendal, Den Store Danske; wikipedia;  
photo Forsthaven and Moesgård 2012: grethe bachmann


Haverose said...

Spætmejsen er en herlig og fornøjelig fugl. De er netop så underholdende i deres færden op og ned af træerne. Jeg havde dem meget i haven som lå i skovbrynet ved Tisvilde hegn men ser dem sjældent her hvor jeg bor nu i Tikøb, og det er lidt ærgerligt.
God dag, Grethe :-)
Hilsen Rose

Thyra said...

Selv goddaws Haverose! ´)
Jeg har været ved Tisvilde hegn et par gange - og det er et dejligt sted. Der er i det hele taget mange fugle der. Men du bor sørme også et skønt sted nu, imellem Gurre sø og Esrum sø, med den skønneste natur - og det er jo et sted der oser af historie. Gurre slot og Esrum kloster og meget andet. Det må være et dejligt sted at bo.
Grethe ´)

Out on the prairie said...

A favorite to watch, they almost remind me of little clowns walking upside down all over the trees.

Thyra said...

Hej Steve, yes it is a funny little fellow isn't it, very entertaining to watch. Maybe it's the jester among birds.

Grethe ´)

stardust said...

Hello, Grethe! I’m back to blogosphere for a short while. Eurasian Nuthatch is called “Gojyukara” in Japanese. Though I haven’t seen them in person, they are popular birds, and watching them must be pleasant and relaxing. Its blue-grey color and eye stripe are charming.


Thyra said...

Hej yoko, I had written a comment but I must have made some error, for it wasn't there!
I'll try again today. Gojyukara is a pretty word. There is poetry in Japanese. If you haven't seen the nuthatch it must be rare where you live, while here - and nearby me- in the park it is easy to find. So only THEREFORE I have caught it in photos!! Or else I think it is difficult to take photos of birds except in a certain distance. Plants are better, they don't fly away!

Have a nice day!
Grethe ´)

Wanda..... said...

We have the white-breasted nuthatches to watch jauntily scurry upside down. The woods out back are full of old large beech, oak and tulip trees. There's a resident pileated woodpecker, so there are plenty of holes for them to nest in.

Thyra said...

Hello Wanda, this must really be a great place for birds with those old trees. And much to see for you on your walks.

Now it is soon spring!!
Grethe ´)

MyMaracas said...

We have a kind of nuthatch too, and find them charmingly bold and funny. It is my husband's favorite bird at the feeder.

Thyra said...

Hej Maracas, it's so lovely to hear from you. I saw a little nuthatch in the park yesterday - it was very lively, but I always feel they must be freezing those little creatures. It has been mild for some days but yesterday a little frost again.
But the light is returning.
Have a nice week-end!
Grethe ´)