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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

Pygmy Nuthatch -- Sitta pygmaea

RANGE: Resident from southern interior British Columbia, northern Idaho, western Montana, central Wyoming, and southwestern South Dakota south to Baja California, Mexico, southern Nevada, central and southeastern Arizona, central New Mexico, western Texas, and western Oklahoma.

STATUS: Common.

HABITAT: Generally associated with pine forests; prefers open, park-like forests, especially among ponderosa pines in the lower coniferous forest zone. Occurs less frequently in pinyon-juniper and pines of the Pacific Coast.

SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Pine forests with dead trees for cavity nest sites.

NEST: Usually excavates nest cavity near the top of a dead pine where the wood is well rotted, or in the underside of a dead branch about 5 to 60 feet above the ground, often at least 25 feet up. Occasionally nests in aspen snags.

FOOD: Searches for food in the tops of pine trees, consuming many insects and conifer seeds. Consumes a diet of about 80 percent insects and spiders.

REFERENCES: Bent 1948, Grinnell and Miller 1944, Johnsgard 1979, Norris 1958, Phillips et al. 1964, Scott et al. 1977.

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