Pygmy Nuthatch
October 2006
Description 3 3/4-4 1/2"  A small nuthatch. Bluish gray above, with gray-brown cap with a
distinct black eye line. Faint white smudge at base of nape. Creamy white below. Usually
occurs in flocks.

Habitat Primarily ponderosa pine forests with undergrowth of bunchgrass. Less common
in stands of other pines, Douglas fir, and western larch.

Diet The Pygmy Nuthatch's winter diet consists of seeds, mostly pine seeds and it's
summer diet is mainly insects and spiders. The Pygmy Nuthatch readily eats suet and
sunflower seeds at bird feeders. It gleans from foliage, probes in cracks and open
pinecones, pries into crevices, and scales off loose bark. It also wedges seeds into cracks
in wood or bark and pecks the seeds open.

Nesting 5-9 white eggs, with reddish-brown speckles, in a nest made of  bark shreds,
moss, grass, fur, feathers, and other soft material; amassed in the cavity of a dead pine or
stump approximately 15'  from the ground.

The Pygmy Nuthatch is one of only two nuthatch species in the world known to have
helpers at the nest. Offspring from previous years help their parents raise young.

Range Resident locally from southern British Columbia, eastward to Black Hills of South
Dakota (rare), and southward into Mexico.

Voice  Shrill piping notes, "pip-pip--pip-pip-pip" as well as high chipping and squeaky
notes.

Discussion Unique among songbirds, the Pygmy Nuthatch uses three energy-saving
mechanisms on cold nights: it uses a protected roost site (hole in a tree), huddles with
other nuthatches (sometimes with more than 100 in a single cavity), and lets its body
temperature drop (hypothermia).
September 2006
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