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Bird Identification

Nuthatches & Creepers

Red-breasted Nuthatch

Sitta canadensis Length: 4.5"

Look For

The orange (not red) breast and black line through the eye set apart the Red-breasted Nuthatch from the larger White-breasted. The male has a black cap and bright orange belly; the female has a blue-gray cap and pale orange belly.

Listen for

The song of the Red-breasted Nuthatch has been compared to the tooting of a tiny tin horn. The notes are nasal, each one slurring upward in tone: yenk, yenk, yenk, yenk.

play the song/call of the red-breasted nuthatch


Nuthatches have powerful legs and feet and can climb up and down tree trunks and along branches. Red-breasteds look like tiny wind-up toys as they walk along tree trunks and branches. Brown Creepers can only crawl up—never down—because they must use their tails as props to support themselves.

Find it

Northern coniferous forests and mountains are the summer home of the Red-breasted Nuthatch. In winter, Red-breasteds can be found in a variety of wooded habitats. Like their White-breasted cousins, they will visit backyard bird feeders.


The name nuthatch describes this family's habit of wedging a seed in a crevice, then hacking the seed open with the chisel-like bill.

Red-breasted nuthatch song provided courtesy of Lang Elliot, This profile is an excerpt from The Young Birder's Guide by Bill Thompson, III. Purchase an autographed copy from our nature store, and check out other BWD titles designed to help you identify backyard birds.

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