Brown-headed Nuthatch Sitta pusilla Scientific name definitions

Gary L. Slater, John D. Lloyd, James H. Withgott, and Kimberly G. Smith
Version: 1.1 — Published August 18, 2021

Tables and Appendices

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Table 1

Food of Brown-headed Nuthatch, based on 17 stomachs from Florida (Nesbitt and Hetrick 1976 ). Data from throughout year, not subdivided by season.

ItemVolume (% of total)Frequency (% of stomachs)
Blattidae (cockroaches)(1)28.070.6
Arachnida (spiders, mostly adults)(2)20.576.5
Coleoptera (various, adults)(3)17.470.6
Plant material(4)16.764.7
Homoptera (various, adults)9.129.4
Odonata (damselflies, adults)3.85.9
Hemiptera (various, mostly eggs)3.047.1
Lepidoptera (adults and larvae)1.511.8
Gryllidae (crickets)trace5.9
Hymenoptera (ants, adults)trace11.8
Isoptera (termites, adults)trace5.9
Unidentified insectstrace5.9

  • Nesbitt and Hetrick 1976
  • (1)Nearly all eggs were of gem cockroach (Agalopteryx gemma), which are usually found attached to tree trunks.(2)Spiders were not identified beyond Arachnida.(3)Six families of Coleoptera were found. Predominant were leaf beetle adults (Chrysomelidae; 9.1% volume, 29.4% frequency); sap beetles (Nitidulidae), and unidentified beetles.(4)Plant material consisted of: seeds (8.3% volume, 23.5% frequency), vegetation (3.8% volume, 11.8% frequency), lichens (2.3% volume, 17.6% frequency), and bark (2.3% volume, 11.8% frequency).

Table 2

Data on growth and development of young Brown-headed Nuthatches, summarized from a more complete table in Norris 1958 . Data given as means of average of 2–3 birds measured per age category (day). Mass in g; all other measures in mm.

0 d18 d42 d
Capital tract (crown)7.7(1)7.7
Spinal tract (dorsal region)15.5(1)19.5
Ventral tract (sternal region)11.2(1)13.7
Rectrices (average from central)17.529.7

  • Norris 1958b
  • (1)Fledging values for P6, capital tract, spinal tract, and ventral tract are averages of values for 16 d and 21 d, because values for 18 d were not provided.

Table 3

Estimates of breeding and wintering densities of the Brown-headed Nuthatch. Data are only roughly comparable, because censusing techniques varied among studies and since no attempt was made to adjust for possible male-biased sex ratio (see Behavior: sexual behavior) when numbers of individuals were calculated from numbers of pairs, nests, or territorial males.

Number of birds/40 haHabitatLocationReference
Breeding season
1.6Hedgerow–forest edgeMarylandMorgan and Gates 1982
6.0 (1–17)Various pine habitatsGeorgia-Florida-Arkansas14 surveys reviewed in Norris 1958b
4.060-yr loblolly-shortleafGeorgiaJohnston and Odum 1956
10.0100-yr shortleaf-loblollyGeorgiaJohnston and Odum 1956
4.830-yr slash-longleaf pineGeorgiaMeyers and Odom 1991
4.880-yr longleaf pineGeorgiaMeyers and Odom 1991
24.845- to 60-yr slash pineGeorgiaMeyers and Odom 1991
2.8Slash pineFloridaLand 1986
4.4Slash pine-cypressFloridaSlater 1997
2.3Slash pine-prairieFloridaSlater 1997
4.0Pine forest, before clear-cuttingFloridaRowse and Marion 1981
13.240-yr slash pineFloridaRepenning and Labisky 1985
18.0Longleaf pineFloridaRepenning and Labisky 1985
26.046-yr loblolly pineLouisianaNoble and Hamilton 1975
1.0Oak-pine bottomlandArkansasJames and Neal 1986
2.0Shortleaf-loblolly-oakArkansasJames and Neal 1986
4.5Shortleaf pine, 3 yr postburnArkansasWilson et al. 1995a
11.9Shortleaf pine, 2 yr postburnArkansasWilson et al. 1995a
18.4Shortleaf pine, 1 yr postburnArkansasWilson et al. 1995a
4.06-yr pine-hardwoodTexasDickson and Segelquist 1979
4.065-yr loblolly-shortleafTexasDickson and Segelquist 1979
12.026-yr loblolly-shortleafTexasDickson and Segelquist 1979
3.4Caribbean pine, island-wideGrand Bahama I.Hayes et al. 2004
4.8Caribbean pine, core habitatGrand Bahama I.Hayes et al. 2004
12.4Slash pine flatwoodssw FloridaLloyd and Slater 2011
3.2Pine rocklandsse FloridaLloyd and Slater 2012
Nonbreeding season
7.8Undeveloped loblolly-shortleafGeorgiaYaukey 1996
17.0Developed residentialGeorgiaYaukey 1996
1.224-yr slash pineFloridaRepenning and Labisky 1985
6.840-yr slash pineFloridaRepenning and Labisky 1985
7.6>50-yr longleaf pineFloridaRepenning and Labisky 1985
10.046-yr loblolly pineLouisianaNoble and Hamilton 1975
14.0–20.0Mature longleaf pineLouisianaMorse 1967b
3.0Oak-pine bottomlandArkansasJames and Neal 1986
8.0Shortleaf-loblolly-oakArkansasJames and Neal 1986
2.026-yr loblolly-shortleafTexasDickson and Segelquist 1977
6.065-yr loblolly-shortleafTexasDickson and Segelquist 1977
9.6Slash pine flatwoodssw FloridaLloyd and Slater 2011

Table 4

Linear measurements (mm) of Brown-headed Nuthatch. From Norris 1958 (n = 702 specimens, divided into 8 geographic regions). Data given as mean ± SD (n), for region with minimum mean and region with maximum mean. Specimens from Grand Bahama I. (n = 1 adult female, 1 juvenile male, 1 unsexed) are included for comparison. Norris did not test for statistically significant differences.

Minimum regional meanMaximum regional meanBahamas mean
Georgia PiedmontN. FloridaS. FloridaMarylandGrand Bahama I.
Male10.66 ± 0.77 (15)11.36 ± 0.51 (13)13.4 (2)
Female10.46 ± 0.53 (23)11.22 (9)
Male63.80 ± 1.59 (47)66.06 ± 1.87 (23)62.5 (3)
Female61.42 ± 1.61 (27)64.93 ± 1.62 (10)
Male28.87 ± 1.31 (49)30.79 ± 1.31 (23)30.6 (3)
Female28.30 ± 1.39 (23)30.51 ± 1.11 (10)
Male14.16 ± 0.51 (50)14.59 ± 0.55 (23)15.2 (3)
Female13.96 ± 0.44 (27)14.40 ± 0.57 (10)

  • Norris 1958b

Recommended Citation

Slater, G. L., J. D. Lloyd, J. H. Withgott, and K. G. Smith (2021). Brown-headed Nuthatch (Sitta pusilla), version 1.1. In Birds of the World (A. F. Poole, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.bnhnut.01.1