French name: Sittelle torchepot
The nuthatch is common throughout France, residing in deciduous woodland, and to a lesser extent in pine forests. Nuthatches are roughly the size of a great tit, and have a large head, short tail and a strong bill. Their powerful feet are used to move with little jumps along tree trunks and branches where they can often be seen descending head first.
The nuthatch enjoys feasting on nuts and seeds (acorns, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds) which it cleverly wedges into a crevice and hammers open with its long, stout, pointed bill. It also forages under the bark of trees for insects.
A monogamous bird, the nuthatch pairs for life and makes its nest each year in either a wall cavity or a hole in a tree. They often reduce the hole size by plastering mud around the entrance.
The nuthatch is a sedentary bird, and does not migrate in winter. If you have seen them in your area, they are likely to remain there throughout their lives. We have quite a few which frequent our garden, and I was lucky enough to catch this one enjoying a few rays of sunshine on the wall of our house last weekend.
Let me know if you have nuthatches in your garden or near you. They are a lovely coloured bird which will brighten up any autumn or winter morning!