The Pygmy Nuthatch (Sitta pygmaea) is a non-migratory bird that lives primarily in Ponderosa and Jeffrey Pine forests in western North America.
These Pygmy Nuthatches were seen in June nesting in a pine tree at Lassen Volcanic National Park in Northern California. Click on photos for full sized images.
They are one of the few cooperatively breeding passerines in North America and a third of the breeding pairs have 1–3 male helpers, usually progeny or other relatives. These helpers feed incubating females, nestlings, and fledglings and participate in defense of the nest site1.
These little 4 1/4 inch birds roost in cavities, which it selects depending on season and weather. It picks roosts based on insulation and ventilation provided by roost cavities and relies on hypothermia to survive cold winter nights. Although a few other North American birds are capable of controlled hypothermia, only the Pygmy Nuthatch links hypothermia with protected roost sites and communalism.
Pairs roost together; juveniles roost with parents, and collectives of several flocks roost together. Stacks of 6, 8, and 10 birds, and more, roost together in formations of squares, oblongs, triangles, diamonds, wedges, and tiers. Two articles report more than 150 individuals roosting in one tree1.
What a nice, close knit family! They sure are cute when you see a group of them fluttering around. This is a video of someone hand feeding these energetic little birds.
Larry Jordan was introduced to birding after moving to northern California where he was overwhelmed by the local wildlife, forcing him to buy his first field guide just to be able to identify all the species visiting his yard. Building birdhouses and putting up feeders brought the avian fauna even closer and he was hooked. Larry wanted to share his passion for birds and conservation and hatched The Birder's Report in September of 2007. His recent focus is on bringing the Western Burrowing Owl back to life in California where he also monitors several bluebird trails. He is a BirdLife Species Champion and contributes to several other conservation efforts, being the webmaster for Wintu Audubon Society and the habitat manager for the Burrowing Owl Conservation Network. He is now co-founder of a movement to create a new revenue stream for our National Wildlife Refuges with a Wildlife Conservation Stamp.
Donna's 2014 Year List - 547
Redgannet's 2014 Year List - 520
Carlos's 2014 Year List - 346
Corey's 2014 Year List - 303
Jochen's 2014 Year List - 301
Clare M's 2014 Year List - 273
Duncan's 2014 Year List - 174
Carrie's 2014 Year List - 063
Carlos's 2013 Year List - 1587
Jochen's 2013 Year List - 553
Corey's 2013 Year List - 511
Donna's 2013 Year List - 438
Duncan's 2013 Year List - 430
Clare M's 2013 Year List - 368
Redgannet's 2013 Year List - 212
Larry's 2013 Year List - 206
Redgannet's 2012 Year List - 660
Jochen's 2012 Year List - 542
Corey's 2012 Year List - 525
Felonious Jive's 2012 Year List - 404
Duncan's 2012 Year List - 402
Clare M's 2012 Year List - 300
Clare K's 2012 Year List - 040
Greg's 2012 Year List - 004