Nuthatch - a family of passerine birds. Includes 2 subfamilies, 3 genera, 25 species. Small birds the size of a sparrow (body length 9.5–19 cm).
The physique is dense, compact. The head is large. The tail is short. The wings are small. The legs are short with tenacious claws that allow you to freely move along the tree trunk both up and down. The beak is straight, sharp, with its help the nuthatch loosely grinds even hard seeds and nuts. Nostrils covered with short, hard feathers, small bristles in the corners of the mouth.
The plumage of different shades, the bottom is always lighter, sometimes with a reddish tan. Many have a dark streak on their eyes, some have a hat.
They inhabit Eurasia, North America, Africa. They feed on insects, spiders, and sometimes eat fruits and seeds.
Most nest in the hollows of trees, reduce the entrance to the hollow, smearing it with dirt. In clutch 4–10 white eggs with red-brown specks. Both parents feed the chicks. Roam near nesting sites. In Russia, representatives of the nuthatch genus are better known.
Family 28. Sittidae - Nuthatch
Small birds (length 10 - 20 cm, weight 15 - 40 g), in appearance similar to nuthatch. Distributed in forests of various types, some species inhabit treeless rocky areas in the mountains. They live in Europe, Asia, on a number of islands in Oceania and in North America.
The head is quite large. The beak is long, powerful at the base, with a sharp peak, straight or slightly curved. The nostrils are covered with hard feathers. At the corners of the mouth there are short, bristles directed forward. Wings of moderate length, with 10 paramount fly wings. The tail is short, out of 12 tail. Paws are strong, with a strong forearm, rather long fingers, bearing powerful, strongly curved sharp claws. The plumage is quite loose. There is one molt in the year (full post-nuptial). Sexual dimorphism of color is weak, young are slightly duller than adults. The color of the top is dominated by bluish-gray or bluish-green tones.
Fig. 195. Nuthatch Sitta europaea L.
Nest in shelters: hollows, rock crevices. Usually reduces the entrance to the shelter, covering it with dirt, some mountain views make mud nests closed with a side entrance. Inside the nest, litter of wool, feathers (often this material is taken from the destroyed ridges of birds of prey), rotten dust, pieces of bark, etc. Nuthatch Neositta thick-walled nests are opened in the fork in the branches. Clutches of 4-8, rarely more than white eggs, usually with reddish-brown specks. Only the female incubates. Incubation 2 - 2.5 weeks. Both parents are usually fed insects with a variety of insects. Young ones fly out approximately 3 weeks after hatching. Outside of the breeding season, they often join flocks of tits. In many species, adult individuals are saddled and keep their nesting site throughout the year. They feed on spiders, insects, their larvae and eggs, looking for them in the cracks of the bark (they easily climb along the vertical trunks), leaf axils, rock cracks. A variety of seeds and fruits are eaten. The nutshell is cracked with strong beak blows, after having previously driven the nut into a crack. With an abundance of feed, seeds and nuts are hidden in the cracks of the bark, under lichens, etc.
The size of the family, according to various taxonomists, varies greatly. Now usually here include 23 - 35 species attributable to 3 genera: Sitta (16 - 18 species), Neositta (6 types), Daphoenositta (monotypic genus). In the USSR, 3–4 species of the same genus Sitta are found and nesting (some taxonomists consider small and large rocky landslides to be subspecies of the same species).
Nuthatch is very close to the family of pikas Certhiidae, with which they are often combined (both groups receive the rank of subfamilies). Sometimes, the genera of the nuthatch family includes all the genera of the family pikes (i.e., sten climbers, Australian pikes, etc.), except for the nominal genus Certhia, which in this case forms a monotypic family.