Bird-Friendly Communities

Make A Little Room for the Brown-headed Nuthatch

Photo: Connie Pinson
Bird-Friendly Communities

Make A Little Room for the Brown-headed Nuthatch

The Brown-headed Nuthatch, a southern bird born and bred, needs your help to find a good home.  They’re losing their pine woods and the dead trees they like for nest holes due to urbanization and deforestation. These darlin’, squeaky birds need more nest boxes today, so we can enjoy them for generations to come.

Brown-headed Nuthatches Need a Good Home!

With your help, 10,000 new Brown-headed Nuthatch homes will be placed across North Carolina by 2015. Watch this video to learn more about nuthatches and how your nest box will help them survive and thrive in the piedmont!

Three easy steps will help make the difference for a nuthatch:

  1. Purchase one or more Brown-headed Nuthatch nest boxes or convert a bluebird nest box with an excluder - a metal ring that fits over the bluebird nest box hole to make it the right size for the nuthatch! Click here to find a retailer. 
  2. Install the nest boxes in your yard using our easy step-by-step instructions.
  3. Register your nest box with NestWatch to help us track the number of houses going up. When you do, we'll send you information about how to help us count babies, and provide occasional updates on how the project is going.

Why they need your help

Brown-headed Nuthatches are losing the pinewoods and dead trees they need for food and nest cavities due to urbanization and deforestation. This loss of habitat has caused the Brown-headed Nuthatch to decline in the Piedmont region. With one simple action, you can help reverse the decline of this adorable, year-round resident. All you have to do is put up a nuthatch birdhouse, also called a nest box, in your yard. Brown-headed Nuthatches live in 90 of 100 counties in North Carolina but not above 2,000 feet elevation. It’s important to help them everywhere they occur, from the coastal plain to the piedmont, to keep this special bird common. See if these tiny birds live in your neighborhood.

No big surprise, but humans have had a hand in their decline. However, humans can also help reverse this trend. We know that putting up nest boxes in backyards worked to conserve the Eastern Bluebird, and we also know that adding nest boxes for nuthatches is a solution that will help our friends thrive!

About the Brown-headed Nuthatch

The Brown-headed Nuthatch is a small bird - just under 4" long - and sounds just like a rubber ducky squeaky toy. A quintessential southern bird, its home ranges from Virginia to east Texas. The nuthatch lives in old-growth pine or just about anywhere it can get its most important food - pine seeds. Nuthatches live in family groups with their grown babies (mostly male birds) sticking around to help with the next brood. These birds are also smart little whippersnappers - they use a piece of bark as a lever to pry up other bark to look for food. They also use bark as a pantry door to cover a seed cache.

About the Nest Boxes

There are two easy ways to provide a cozy little home for the nuthatch. First, any nest box design approved by the North American Bluebird Society will work very well for Brown-headed Nuthatches, but it is important to make the opening smaller - ideally 1 1/8” in diameter. Bird stores sell metal excluders that you can attach over the 1 1/2" hole on a standard bluebird box to make it ready for nuthatches. Make your own nest box or purchase a made-for-nuthatches nest box at bird stores or online. If you'd like to decorate the box, be sure to paint only the exterior with a light-colored paint.

To invite both bluebirds and nuthatches to your yard (they make fine neighbors), you can put both a bluebird box (1 1/2" hole) and a nuthatch box (1" hole) no less than 30 feet apart.

Learn more about nest box installation, timing and maintenance in our Brown-headed Nuthatch Fact Sheet.

Find plans to build your own nest box here. 

Put Up Your Nest Box and Then Tell Us About Your New Neighbors

With your help, 10,000 new Brown-headed Nuthatch homes will be put up in North Carolina by 2015. To keep track of how many houses are going up, please register your Nuthatch Nest Box project participation. When you register, we'll send you more fun facts about nuthatches and other backyard birds.

Are you ready to put up a nest box for nuthatches in your backyard? Click here for a list of retailers. 

AUDUBON NC CHAPTERS: Are you selling nuthatch boxes as a fundraiser? Download our sales flyer!


How you can help, right now