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20 Birds Similar to a Nuthatch

Nuthatch perched on a dead tree branch,

Have you ever wondered what birds are similar to a nuthatch? Well, wonder no longer! Here are 20 birds that share many similarities with nuthatches.

But before we jump into the different birds, let’s learn a little more about the nuthatch!

What is a Nuthatch?

A nuthatch is a small, short-tailed bird. Nuthatches have stout bills and long toes, which help them to grip tree bark as they climb headfirst down trunks and branches. Their wings are rounded, and their tails are square.

Nuthatches are found in woods and forests across much of the world, including Europe, Asia, and North America. There are two subspecies of nuthatches- the white-breasted nuthatch and the red-breasted nuthatch. The white-breasted nuthatch is found in North America, while the red-breasted nuthatch is found across Europe and Asia.

What is A Nuthatch’s Habitat?

Nuthatches are found in woods and forests. They prefer habitats with trees that have thick bark for them to grip onto as they climb.

What do Nuthatches Eat?

Nuthatches eat insects, spiders, and other small invertebrates. They will also eat seeds, nuts, and berries. Nuthatches will store food in crevices in tree bark to eat later.

1. Chickadee

Chickadee is perche in a tree.

The first bird on our list is the chickadee. Chickadees are small, plump birds with short tails and round heads. They have black caps and bibs on their throats.

The rest of their plumage is gray or brown. Chickadees are found in woods and forests across North America. They prefer habitats with lots of trees.

Chickadees eat insects, spiders, and other small invertebrates. They will also eat seeds, nuts, and berries. Chickadees will store food in crevices in tree bark to eat later.

  • How big it gets: 4.5-6 inches
  • What it eats: Chickadees eat insects, spiders, and other small invertebrates. They will also eat seeds, nuts, and berries.
  • How long it lives: 6-12 years
  • Habitat: Chickadees are found in woods and forests across North America.
  • Behaviors: Chickadees are social birds. They often form flocks with other chickadees and other small birds. Chickadees are also known for their boldness. They are not afraid to approach humans and will often take food from people’s hands.
  • Similarities to a Nuthatch: Chickadees and nuthatches are both small, plump birds with short tails and round heads. They are both found in woods and forests across North America. Both birds eat insects, spiders, and other small invertebrates.
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Chickadees and nuthatches are also known for their boldness around humans.

  • Differences from a Nuthatch: Chickadees have black caps and bibs on their throats. Nuthatches have gray or brown plumage. Chickadees eat seeds, nuts, and berries.

Nuthatches do not eat seeds, nuts, and berries. Chickadees will store food in crevices in tree bark to eat later. Nuthatches do not store food in crevices in tree bark.

2. Tufted Titmouse

A tufted titmouse sitting on a limb.

The tufted titmouse is the second bird on our list. The tufted titmouse is a small, gray bird with a white breast and a black head with a white forehead. The tufted titmouse is found in woods and forests across eastern North America.

The tufted titmouse eats insects, spiders, and other small invertebrates. They will also eat seeds, nuts, and berries. Tufted titmice will store food in crevices in tree bark to eat later.

  • How big it gets: 5.5-6.7 inches long
  • What it eats: Small insects, spiders, berries
  • How long it lives: 6-9 years in the wild
  • Habitat: Woodlands and forests
  • Behaviors: Storing food in tree crevices
  • Similarities to a Nuthatch: Both the tufted titmouse and the nuthatch are small, gray birds with black heads. They are both found in woods and forests. Both birds eat insects, spiders, and other small invertebrates.

Both birds will also eat seeds, nuts, and berries.

  • Differences from a Nuthatch: The tufted titmouse has a white forehead, while the nuthatch does not. The nuthatch is found in Europe, Asia, and Africa, while the tufted titmouse is found only in North America. The nuthatch is a little smaller than the tufted titmouse.
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3. Treecreeper

Treecreeper looking for food on tree bark.

The treecreeper is a small bird found throughout Europe, Asia, and parts of Africa. It has a long, curved bill and climbs up tree trunks in search of insects. The treecreeper is brownish-gray with a white breast and belly.

It has a long tail that it uses to prop itself up a tree.

  • How big it gets: 4.5-6 inches (11.4-15.2 cm)
  • What it eats: Small insects, spiders
  • How long it lives: Up to 6 years
  • Habitat: Woodlands
  • Behaviors: The treecreeper is a shy bird that is rarely seen in the open. It forages for food on tree trunks and branches, using its long, curved bill to probe for insects. The treecreeper is known to climb headfirst down a tree trunk in search of food.

The treecreeper builds a nest of twigs and leaves in a hole in a tree trunk or branch. The female lays 4-7 eggs, which are incubated for 14-16 days. The treecreeper is a non-migratory bird.

  • Similarities to a Nuthatch: Both the treecreeper and the nuthatch are small birds with long, curved bills. Both birds climb up tree trunks in search of food, and both build nests in holes in trees.

Differences from a Nuthatch: The treecreeper is shyer than the nuthatch and is rarely seen in the open. The treecreeper climbs down trees headfirst, while the nuthatch climbs up trees.

4. Wren

A beautiful wren on a colored background.

The wren is a small, brown bird with a long bill and tail. There are many different species of wren, but they all have similar characteristics. Wrens are known for their loud, shrill calls.

  • How big it gets: 4.5-5.5 inches (11.4-14 cm)
  • What it eats: Insects, spiders, and other small invertebrates
  • How long it lives: Up to 10 years
  • Habitat: Forests, woodlands, and gardens
  • Behaviors: Wrens are active birds that are constantly on the move. They often build their nests in hidden places, such as in a hollow tree or behind a loose piece of bark.
  • Similarities to a Nuthatch: Both birds are small, brown, and have long tails. Both birds also make loud, shrill calls.
  • Differences from a Nuthatch: Wrens have longer bills and tails than nuthatches. Nuthatches are more likely to be found in trees, while wrens are more likely to be found on the ground. Wrens are more likely to build their nests in hidden places, while nuthatches will build their nests in more open areas.
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5. Whistler

A beautiful golden whistler bird close-up.

The next bird on our list is the Whistler. This bird is very similar in appearance to a nuthatch, with its small body and long tail. It is also found in wooded areas, where it forages for insects.

The Whistler has a black head and back, with a white belly and breast. Its wings are black, with white bars. This bird is found in North and South America.

  • How big it gets: 5.5-6.7 inches (14-17 cm)
  • What it eats: Insects, spiders, and other small
  • What it eats: Insects, spiders, and other small animals
  • How long it lives: Up to 10 years in the wild
  • Habitat: Woodlands
  • Behaviors: Forages for food on the ground or in trees
  • Similarities to a Nuthatch: Small body, long tail, forages for insects, black head and back, white belly and breast.
  • Differences from a Nuthatch: Found in North and South America, not as widespread as a nuthatch.

6. Tree Sparrow

Photo of tree sparrow standing on a moss.

The tree sparrow is a small bird that is often found in woodlands and gardens. They are very similar in appearance to a nuthatch, with their small size and brown plumage. However, they have a white breast and face, with a black cap on their head.

They are also known for their high-pitched twittering call.

  • How big it gets: Up to 5.5 inches (14 cm)
  • What it eats: Seeds, insects
  • How long it lives: Up to 10 years
  • Habitat: Woodlands, gardens
  • Behaviors: Tree sparrows are very social birds, often forming small flocks. They are also known for their acrobatic flying abilities, often performing flips and twists in the air. Tree sparrows typically nest in trees, using small twigs and leaves to build their nests.
  • Similarities to a Nuthatch: Small size, brown plumage, black head cap, white face, and breast.
  • Differences from a Nuthatch: Tree sparrows are more social, and their plumage is more uniform in color. They also lack the black stripe down the center of their face that nuthatches have.
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7. Bushtit

Bushtit on green tree branch.

The bushtit (Psaltriparus minimus) is a small songbird with a round body and long tail. It is closely related to the titmice and chickadees. The bushtit is only 6.5–7 cm (2.6–2.8 in) long, with a wingspan of 11 cm (4.3 in), and weighs only 6–7 g (0.21–0.25 oz).

It is gray-brown above and pale below, with a long black tail and white eye-rings. The bushtit has a large head and a small bill. It is found in woodlands and scrublands in western North America, from Alaska to Mexico.

  • How big it gets: 6.5–7 cm (2.6–2.8 in)
  • What it eats: small insects, spiders
  • How long it lives: 6–8 years
  • Habitat: woodlands and scrublands in western North America
  • Behaviors: The bushtit is a social bird, often found in flocks of up to 50 individuals. It is an acrobatic bird, often hanging upside down from branches while foraging. The bushtit builds a spherical nest of moss and spider webs, which is suspended from a branch.

The female lays 4–9 eggs, which are incubated for 13–16 days.

  • Similarities to a Nuthatch: Small size, long tail, black head cap, white eye-rings.
  • Differences from a Nuthatch: Bushtits are more social, and their plumage is more uniform in color.

8. Marsh Wren

A portait photo of marsh wren.

The Marsh Wren (Cistothorus palustris) is a small songbird of the New World. This sparrow-sized bird has a long tail that often cocks upward. The adult male has brown upper parts with a white throat and belly.

It also has a distinctive orange stripe above its eye. The female is similar in appearance to the male but with a streaked throat and buffy upper parts. This wren is found in fresh and salt marshes across North America.

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It builds a spherical grass nest on top of cattails or other plants. The Marsh Wren is a non-migratory bird that often forms large winter flocks.

  • How big it gets: 4.5-5.75 inches (11.4-14.6 cm)
  • What it eats: Small insects, spiders
  • How long it lives: 2-5 years
  • Habitat: Fresh and saltwater marshes
  • Behaviors: Non-migratory, often forms large flocks in winter
  • Similarities to a Nuthatch: The Marsh Wren has a long tail that it often cocks upward, like a nuthatch. It is also a non-migratory bird that often forms large winter flocks, like a nuthatch.
  • Differences from a Nuthatch: The Marsh Wren is smaller than a nuthatch. It has a streaked throat and buffy upper parts, whereas the nuthatch has a black cap and a blue-gray back.

9. Bewick’s Wren

Beautiful bewicks wren posing for me on dead tree.

The Bewick’s Wren is a small wren found in North America. It is similar to the Carolina Wren and has a long tail that often cocks upward. The Bewick’s Wren is brown above and has a white belly with black streaks.

It is named after Thomas Bewick, a British naturalist.

  • How big it gets: Up to 5.5 inches (14 cm)
  • What it eats: Insects
  • How long it lives: Up to 8 years
  • Habitat: Woodlands, brushy areas
  • Behaviors: The Bewick’s Wren is a shy bird that is often seen in pairs or small groups. It is active and has a loud song. The Bewick’s Wren builds a cup-shaped nest out of grass, bark, and leaves. It usually lays 4-6 eggs.
  • Similarities to a Nuthatch: The Bewick’s Wren is similar to a Nuthatch in size, habitat, and behavior. It has a long tail that often cocks upward, and it is active and has a loud song.
  • Differences from a Nuthatch: The Bewick’s Wren is brown with black streaks, while the Nuthatch is gray. The Bewick’s Wren builds a cup-shaped nest, while the Nuthatch builds a dome-shaped nest.
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10. Woodpecker

A beautiful woodpecker looking for home.

The woodpecker is a bird with a long beak and strong legs that allow it to climb trees. It has a hard, sharp beak that it uses to drill holes in trees to find insects to eat. The woodpecker is also known for its drumming sound, which it makes by tapping its beak on tree trunks.

The woodpecker is a common bird that can be found in woods and forests. It has a black and white body with a long, pointed beak. It uses its beak to peck at trees, looking for insects to eat.

The woodpecker is a similar size to the nuthatch.

  • How big it gets: 9-13 inches (22-33 cm)
  • What it eats: insects
  • Habitat: woods and forests
  • Behaviors: tapping, drilling
  • Similarities to a Nuthatch: Both birds have black and white plumage. The woodpecker has a long beak used for drilling holes in trees, similar to the nuthatch’s beak, which is used for opening seeds.
  • Differences from a Nuthatch: The woodpecker is known for its drumming sound, while the nuthatch is not.

11. Sapsucker

Sapsucker carving up the trees in the caribbean.

The sapsucker is a bird that drills holes in trees and drinks the sap. It has a long, curved beak that it uses to drill holes in the bark. The sapsucker is black, white, and gray with a red breast. It is found in woods and forests in North America.

  • How big it gets: 7-9 inches (18-23 cm)
  • What it eats: Insects, sap
  • How long it lives: Up to 9 years
  • Habitat: Woodlands and forests
  • Behaviors: Drilling holes in trees to drink sap
  • Similarities to a Nuthatch: The sapsucker, like the nuthatch, has black and white plumage. It also has a long beak used for drilling holes in trees.
  • Differences from a Nuthatch: The sapsucker is red-breasted, while the nuthatch is not. The sapsucker drinks sap, while the nuthatch does not.
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12. Flicker

Northern flicker perched on a branch.

The Flicker is a medium-sized bird with brown and black plumage. They have a white rump and tail, and their wings are barred with black and white. They are found in woodlands and open areas across North and South America.

Flickers eat a variety of foods, including insects, berries, and nuts.

  • How big it gets: 9.5-11 inches (24-28 cm)
  • What it eats: Berries, insects
  • How long it lives: Up to 15 years
  • Habitat: Woodlands and open areas
  • Behaviors: The male Flicker will bore a hole in a tree to make a nest. The female will then line the nest with leaves and other materials. Flickers are known to mate for life.
  • Similarities to a Nuthatch: The Flicker is a similar size to a Nuthatch and has a similar diet. They are both found in woodlands and open areas and are known to mate for life.
  • Differences from a Nuthatch: The Flicker has brown and black plumage, while the Nuthatch is mostly gray. The Flicker also has a white rump and tail, while the Nuthatch does not.

13. Shrike

Red-backed shrike on the branch in flight.

Shrikes are a family of birds known for their predatory habits. Many shrike species are known to impale their prey on thorns or sharp objects, making them easy to find and eat later. Some shrike species are also known to eat small mammals, reptiles, and even other birds.

The shrike family includes many different species of birds, but the most similar to a nuthatch is the loggerhead shrike. This bird is about the same size as a nuthatch and has a similar bill shape. The loggerhead shrike also has a black mask around its eyes, which some nuthatch species also have.

  • How big it gets: 9-10 inches (23-25 cm)
  • What it eats: Small birds, insects, lizards
  • How long it lives: Up to 15 years
  • Habitat: Open areas with some trees or shrubs
  • Behaviors: Loggerhead shrikes are known to impale their prey on thorns or barbed wire fence posts. This behavior gives them the nickname “butcher bird.”
  • Similarities to a Nuthatch: Size, bill shape, a black mask around eyes
  • Differences from a Nuthatch: Loggerhead shrikes are predators, while nuthatches are mostly insectivores.
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14. Vireo

Blue-headed vireo in spring.

The vireo is a small songbird with a body shape similar to that of a nuthatch. They have a stout bill, and their plumage is typically greenish-olive on the upper parts and yellowish on the underparts. They are found in woodlands across the United States and parts of Canada.

  • How big it gets: 4.5-5.75 inches (11.4-14.6 cm)
  • What it eats: Small insects, spiders
  • How long it lives: Up to 9 years
  • Habitat: Woodlands
  • Behaviors: Singing, foraging on tree trunks and branches
  • Similarities to a Nuthatch: Stout bill, forages on tree trunks and branches, similar overall body shape
  • Differences from a Nuthatch: Yellowish underparts, found in different parts of North America

15. Warbler

Yellow warbler singing while perched on a small trunk.

The warbler is a small songbird with a thin, often pointed beak. They are frequent visitors to gardens and woods, where they can be seen flitting about amongst the foliage in search of insects. Many warbler species are brightly colored, making them a popular choice for bird-watchers. Some of the more common warbler species include the yellow warbler, chiffchaff, and willow warbler.

  • How big it gets: 4.5-5.75 inches (11.4-14.6 cm)
  • What it eats: Insects
  • How long it lives: 1-10 years
  • Habitat: Forests, gardens
  • Behaviors: Singing, nesting
  • Similarities to a Nuthatch: The warbler and nuthatch are both small songbirds with thin beaks. They are both insectivores that frequent forests and gardens. Both birds are also known for their singing abilities.
  • Differences from a Nuthatch: Warblers are usually more brightly colored than nuthatches. Nuthatches are also able to climb down trees headfirst, whereas warblers cannot.

16. Tanager

Paradise tanager sitting on berry bush close-up.

The tanager is a small to medium-sized songbird that is found in woodlands throughout the Americas. These birds are often brightly colored, and the males of some species can be quite striking. Tanagers are closely related to finches, and like their cousins, they are seed-eaters.

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However, they also eat insects, which sets them apart from most other seed-eating birds.

  • How big it gets: 6.3-9 inches long
  • What it eats: mostly insects, also seeds
  • How long it lives: up to 11 years
  • Habitat: woodlands
  • Behaviors: often seen in flocks; some species are known to engage in “mud-puddling,” where they gather together to drink muddy water
  • Similarities to a Nuthatch: small to medium size; insectivorous diet; lives in woodland habitats; often seen in flocks
  • Differences from a Nuthatch: not closely related; brightly colored plumage in some species; males and females often look different from one another.

17. Sparrow

Close-up of a sparrow.

The sparrow is a small, brownish-gray bird with a short tail and wings. It has a black bill and dark eyes. Sparrows are found in open areas, such as fields and parks.

  • How big it gets: 4.5-9 inches (11.4-22.9 cm)
  • What it eats: Seeds, insects, berries
  • How long it lives: 1-5 years
  • Habitat: Grasslands, woodlands, gardens
  • Behaviors: Singing, flying
  • Similarities to a Nuthatch: small size; lives in open areas
  • Differences from a Nuthatch: not closely related; brownish-gray plumage; shorter

18. Bunting

Bunting bird sunflower flower.

The bunting is a medium-sized songbird with a short, stout bill. Its plumage is mostly gray or brown, and it has a white chest and belly. It is found in open habitats such as woods, meadows, and fields. The bunting feeds on seeds, insects, and berries.

  • How big it gets: 6-8 inches (15-20 cm)
  • What it eats: primarily seeds, also insects and berries
  • How long it lives: 2-5 years
  • Habitat: woods, meadows, fields
  • Behaviors: forages on the ground; often perches in trees
  • Similarities to a Nuthatch: short, stout bill; gray or brown plumage; white chest and belly
  • Differences from a Nuthatch: larger size; not as adept at climbing trees
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19. Grosbeak

A rose-breasted grosbeak perched on a tree branch.

The grosbeak is a large, plump seed-eating bird with a thick bill. It is found in open woodlands and forests across North and South America. The grosbeak is similar to the nuthatch in appearance but is larger and has a stouter bill.

  • How big it gets: 8.5-9.8 inches (21-25 cm)
  • What it eats: Mostly seeds, also insects
  • How long it lives: Up to 15 years
  • Habitat: Woodlands and forests
  • Behaviors: Grosbeaks are social birds that often travel in pairs or small flocks. They are active and vocal and will often perch in high places to sing.
  • Similarities to a Nuthatch: Both birds are plump with thick bills, and both are found in woodlands and forests.
  • Differences from a Nuthatch: The grosbeak is larger than the nuthatch, however, and has a more robust bill.

20. Crossbill

White winged crossbill in winter time.

The crossbill is a unique bird with a beak that crosses at the tips. They are found in wooded areas and use their beaks to pry open pinecones and eat the seeds. Crossbills are red, yellow, or greenish in color with darker stripes on their wings.

  • How big it gets: 7-8 inches (18-20 cm)
  • What it eats: Seeds, insects
  • How long it lives: Up to 15 years
  • Habitat: Forests
  • Behaviors: Eats while hanging upside down
  • Similarities to a Nuthatch: Both birds have crossed beaks and similar body sizes, and both are found in wooded areas.
  • Differences from a Nuthatch: Crossbills are red, yellow, or greenish in color, while nuthatches are gray or brown. Crossbills eat seeds and insects, while nuthatches mainly eat insects.
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Frequently Asked Questions

How do nuthatches reproduce?

Nuthatches mate in the spring and summer. The female nuthatch will build a small nest made of twigs, bark, paper, and other materials in a hole in a tree or wall. She will lay four to eight eggs, which will hatch in about two weeks.

What is the difference between a male and female nuthatch bird?

Nuthatches are easy to identify because of the stripe that goes down the middle of their heads. Male nuthatches have a blue-gray back and wings, while females have a brown back and wings. Both genders have a white belly with black bars.

How can you tell a juvenile nuthatch bird apart from an adult?

Juvenile nuthatches are similar to adults, but they have browner plumage, and their heads are not as brightly colored.