Welcome to the Birds of North America Online!
Welcome to BNA Online, the leading source of life history information for North American breeding birds. This free, courtesy preview is just the first of 14 articles that provide detailed life history information including Distribution, Migration, Habitat, Food Habits, Sounds, Behavior and Breeding. Written by acknowledged experts on each species, there is also a comprehensive bibliography of published research on the species.
A subscription is needed to access the remaining articles for this and any other species. Subscription rates start as low as $5 USD for 30 days of complete access to the resource. To subscribe, please visit the Cornell Lab of Ornithology E-Store.
If you are already a current subscriber, you will need to sign in with your login information to access BNA normally.
Subscriptions are available for as little as $5 for 30 days of full access! If you would like to subscribe to BNA Online, just visit the Cornell Lab of Ornithology E-Store.
Endemic to pine forests of the southeastern United States, and rarely seen far from pine-dominated areas, the Brown-headed Nuthatch is one of the few cooperatively-breeding birds native to North America, and one of the few for which tool use has been documented (individuals use chips of pine bark to pry off other bark chips while foraging).
This nuthatch’s habit of staying high in the canopy often makes it difficult to observe, but its tendency to nest lower has encouraged studies of its breeding biology. Norris’s (1958) pioneering work detailed the breeding biology of a Georgia population in the course of a comparative study with its sister species, the Pygmy Nuthatch (Sitta pygmaea). Many aspects of Brown-headed Nuthatch biology, including its cooperative breeding behavior and its population demography, have recently been investigated in color-marked populations, providing a wealth of information upon which to base further study.
The Brown-headed’s association with pines, particularly mature pines, and its reliance on snags for nesting may make it a good indicator species for the health of southeastern pine forests, which have been extensively logged over the last century. The failure of this species to recolonize areas where populations were extirpated because of habitat change, and the near disappearance of populations on Grand Bahama Island in the Bahamas (S. p. insularis), highlight the vulnerability of this species to habitat alteration by humans. Nonetheless, important conservation actions have been accomplished -- this is one of the few North American landbirds that has been successfully reintroduced to habitat it formerly occupied.
Slater, Gary L., John D. Lloyd, James H. Withgott and Kimberly G. Smith. 2013. Brown-headed Nuthatch (Sitta pusilla), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online: http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/species/349