Californian Nuthatch

The definitive website on wildbirds & nature

Birds of America

By John James Audubon, F. R. SS. L. & E.


Back TOC Forward


[Pygmy Nuthatch.]

[Sitta pygmea.]


The figures of this species were drawn from a specimen kindly lent me by the Council of the Zoological Society of London. It was procured by Captain BEECHEY in Upper California, and is therefore entitled to a place in our Fauna. Nothing is known of the habits of this bird, nor do I even know the sex of the individual figured.

CALIFORNIAN NUTHATCH, Sitta pygmaea, Aud. Orn. Biog., vol. v. p. 163.

Adult, 3 10/12, wing, 3 5/12.



Bill of moderate length, rather slender, subconical, compressed, the tip depressed; upper mandible slightly convex in the dorsal outline, the sides sloping, the edges sharp and overlapping; lower mandible with the angle short and rather narrow, the dorsal line ascending and slightly convex. Nostrils basal, lateral, oblong.

Head rather large, ovate; neck short; body short. Feet rather short and strong; tarsus compressed, anteriorly scutellate, behind sharp; toes free, scutellate above, the hind toe very large and strong; claws arched, much compressed, laterally grooved, acute, that of the hind toe much larger.

Plumage soft and blended. Wings of ordinary length; the first quill very small, the second considerably shorter than the third, the fourth longest. Tail very short, even, of twelve rounded soft feathers.

Bill bluish-black. Feet and claws reddish-brown. The upper part of the head and the hind neck are dull greyish-brown; the upper parts of the body dull leaden-grey; the quills and tail-feathers dusky, margined with light grey, the two lateral tail-feathers on each side with a white band toward the base; the lower parts brownish-white.

Length to end of tail 3 10/12 inches; bill along the ridge (6 1/2)/12; wing from flexure 3 5/12; tail 1 1/4.

Back TOC Forward

Save Our Forests