SCIENTIFIC NAME:Sitta pusilla POPULATION: 1.4 million TREND: Decreasing HABITAT: Loblolly, Longleaf, Shortleaf, and pine-oak forests.
The perky, social Brown-headed Nuthatch never strays far from its favorite pine-forest habitat, where small flocks range through the trees, easily detected by their squeaky calls. Even smaller than its close relative theWhite-breasted Nuthatch, it’s no wonder that this tiny songbird’s species name is pusilla, Latin for “very small.”
The Brown-headed Nuthatch, like theGreen Heron, is one of the few birds in the world known to regularly use tools. When foraging, it may select a flake of pine bark, then use it as a lever to pry up bark scales to get at food hidden beneath, usually insects and spiders or their eggs. This enterprising little bird has also been observed using twigs and pine needles as tools. A Brown-headed Nuthatch will even carry its tool from tree to tree as it forages, or use it to cover up a cache of seeds.