The adult male of the nominate subspecies, S. e. europaea is 14 cm (5.5 in) long and weighs 17-28 g. It has blue-grey upperparts, a black eyestripe and whitish throat and underparts. The flanks and lower belly are orange-red, mottled with white on the undertail. The stout bill is dark grey, paler on the base of the lower mandible, the iris is dark brown and the legs and feet are pale brown or greyish. The S. e. europaea group differ only in detail from the nominate form, often with respect to the hue of the underparts. S. e. arctica is large, pale, has a white forehead and a reduced eyestripe, and it has more white in the tail and wings than any other subspecies.

Habitat and Distribution

The breeding range extends across temperate Eurasia from Great Britain (but not Ireland) to Japan. It is found north in western Russia and Siberia. It breeds south to the Mediterranean in Europe, although it is absent from the islands, other than Sicily, and in most of Russia. In the east, the range includes most of China, Taiwan and much of Korea. Most populations are non migratory. It is a resident bird of deciduous woods and parkland.


It feeds on insects, seeds and nuts. Nuthatches have a habit of wedging a nut in a crevice in a tree, and then hacking at it with its strong bill. They will also come to bird feeding tables and aggressively, driving other species away.


Nests are in holes or crevices, lined with bark or grass. The size of the hole's entrance may be reduced by the building of a neat mud wall. Five to eight eggs are laid, white speckled with red.

Calls and Songs

This bird calls frequently, usually with a loud, sharp dwip usually repeated twice, sometimes more if excited. It has a shrill sirrrr or tsi-si-si alarm call, and a thin tsit pre-flight call. The song is a slow whistled pee-pee-pee.