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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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Forest and Rangeland Birds of the United States

Natural History and Habitat Use

Brown-headed Nuthatch -- Sitta pusilla

RANGE: Resident from southeastern Oklahoma, central Arkansas, the northern portions of the Gulf States, northern Georgia, eastern Tennessee, western North Carolina, south-central and eastern Virginia, southern Maryland, and southern Delaware south to eastern Texas, the Gulf Coast, and southern Florida.

STATUS: Locally common to rare in parts of its range.

HABITAT: Prefers open pine or pine-hardwood woodlands, particularly burned-over areas or clearings where there are dead trees or old stumps. Virtually never found outside the coastal plain of the Southeast, or pine habitats.

SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Dead trees or stumps for nest excavation.

NEST: Excavates nest cavities in dead trees and stumps (often fire-blackened) or in posts or poles. Cavities are seldom over 13 feet high and usually less than 5 feet above the ground. Occasionally uses old woodpecker holes or natural cavities.

FOOD: Eats mainly insects in summer, foraging for food on tree branches and trunks. Mostly eats pine seeds in winter.

REFERENCES: Bent 1948, Norris 1958, Pearson 1936, Terres 1980.

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