The nuthatch is an inquisitive orange-bellied bird, with a blue back and a black eye mask. They might be small, around the size of a great tit, but there’s more to this bird than meets the eye. It has an expert tree-climbing skill.
Nuthatches grip onto the trunk with their strong legs and feet, sometimes upside down, to search for insects under the bark. Unlike the treecreeper, which can only travel upwards on a tree, a nuthatch can walk both up and down the tree like a vertical tightrope.
Its strong black beak allows it to shatter seed casings and eat much tougher foods, such as hazelnuts and acorns, than its fellow garden birds. Nuthatches store their food by hiding it under tree bark and small stones for later. They even cache larger pieces of food by wedging it into small holes, then hacking it out with their beak again later.
Nuthatches are often heard before they are seen. High in the treetops, their piercing call is a piping and insistent ‘chit chit chit chit’, which can be heard over the top of many other bird calls.
Insects, nuts, acorns and seeds are all favourites of the nuthatch.
Henry Bell’s Sunflower Seeds make fantastic bite-sized meals for the nuthatch, which uses its strong beak to crush the casings and reach the nutritious kernel inside.