The Nuthatch is an agile woodland bird that loves being upside-down while climbing up and down trees or walls, just to show off. They are not so keen on pine trees because they prickle and are sticky, preferring to live in woods and parks with mature deciduous trees instead.

They look like a mini woodpecker and are pale blue grey above, buff below, with rusty sides and a bold black eye stripe. They have a long, black, spiky bill and a wedge shaped tail. There call is a loud "quip!", most often heard repeated in twos.

Nuthatches feed mainly on insects, beetles and spiders, switching to nuts in winter when there are fewer insects. They get their name from their habit of wedging a nut, seed or large insect in a crevice on a tree and hammering it open with their powerful bill. They will hide seeds by pushing them into the bark so they can come back to eat them later.

The Nuthatch nests in tree holes, adjusting the opening with mud until it is a perfect fit. This also stops other bigger birds from getting in. The nest hole is filled with bark and leaves and the 6-8 eggs are laid sometime during April. Mum alone sits on the eggs until they hatch 15 days later. The young are fed by both parents for the next 24 days until they are ready to leave.

Nuthatches are sedentary residents with 220,000 pairs found all over England and Southern Scotland. They will seldom move from the woods where they are born making their spread to new areas very slow. The average lifespan is between 2 and 3.5 years, with the oldest ringed bird living to 11 and becoming a master at cracking a nut.

Their Latin name is 'sitta europaea' where 'sitta' is derived from the Ancient Greek 'sitte' for nuthatch. The 'europaea' means 'European' as, despite their slow colonisation, they can be found all over Europe.


The Treecreeper is a small, very active, bird that unsurprisingly lives in trees. It hardly ever stays still like an ever climbing mouse. It is difficult to see for more than a few seconds as their normal method of feeding is to jerkily spiral round a tree, moving upwards, until it reaches the top before flying down to start on the next one. You have to be sharp eyed to spot the little fellows as they blend in amazingly with the tree trunk. They are found mainly in larger woods, parkland or by streams where there is a corridor of connected trees. Their favourite trees are redwoods as they can make comfy holes in the soft bark to roost in.

The Treecreeper is smaller than a Great Tit. It has a brown streaked back, whitish underparts, a long slender downward curved bill, and a ragged stripe over the eye. There is a buff wing bar together with stiff pointed tail feathers which help it creep up the tree trunks. If a Treecreeper is disturbed, it generally freezes, relying on its camouflage to stay hidden. Its black and brown mottled plumage makes it look like the bark of a tree. Their song sounds like "see see less sissy see" and is very quiet, thin and high-pitched. You have to listen carefully to hear it.

Treecreepers feed on insects and spiders by exploring the bark and crevices using their long, sharp beaks to find them. They eat seeds during the winter months when insects are scarce. All things they can find readily on a tree.

They breed between April and July, taking advantage of the plentiful supply of caterpillars to feed their young. When it comes to nest building, the Treecreeper did not opt for the most common twig solution. Instead, they build their nest behind a flap of loose bark in order to stay hidden from attack by woodpeckers and squirrels who will steal the eggs and chicks. They lay a base of twigs and then add grass, moss, and lichen, finishing it with wood chips. It takes them about a week to build the nest. The female then lines the nest with hair, wool and feathers to make it comfy. She lays 5-6 pink-speckled white eggs which hatch after 14 days. The young can fly 15 days later. The tiny nest can get quite crowded towards the end. They usually raise two broods.

The Treecreeper is mainly a sedentary resident with 200,000 territories and, on the whole, they do not move far. They are homebodies and stay in their own small territories, some sticking to only one tree! Young Treecreepers spread out from their breeding territories in autumn but most stay within 20 km of where they were born. A few northern Treecreepers move south for winter. Overall, their population is mainly stable.

Their Latin name is 'certhia familiaris' derived from the Ancient Greek 'kerthios' for a small tree-dwelling bird described by Aristotle and others, and the Latin 'familiaris' for 'familiar' or 'common'. It is just a common little tree bird. A local West Country name for the treecreeper is the 'tree mouse', which suits it perfectly.