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10 Birds That Look Like Nuthatches (With Pictures)

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Boreal Chickadee in a tree

While the nuthatch is an adorable and cute bird, they’re not the only bird out there. In fact, there are other birds that look like nuthatches!

Whether you’re trying to figure out what kind of bird you saw or if you want to identify similar-looking birds, this guide breaks down 10 different birds that are visually similar to the nuthatch!

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Top 10 Birds That Look Like Nuthatches:

1. Chickadee

mexican chickadee perched
Image Credit: J K Laws, Shutterstock
Scientific Name Paridae
Range Northern North America
Weight 0.3 to 0.4 ounces
Population 100 million+

If you’re looking for the bird that people most commonly confuse with the nuthatch, that’s the chickadee. They fall within the same weight classifications and look incredibly similar.

There are many chickadee subspecies just like there are with the nuthatch, and there are multitudes of both types of birds. It might take you a while to routinely tell these two types of birds apart!

2. Treecreeper

Image Credit: Pixabay
Scientific Name Certhiidae
Range Europe and Northern Asia
Weight 0.25 to 5 ounces
Population 55 million

The treecreeper has a similar appearance to the nuthatch, though they tend to be a bit longer. They do have a chest that puffs out a little, though, and this trait leads to much of the confusion.

The treecreeper can get larger than the nuthatch, but many stay about the same size. Finally, you’ll only see the treecreeper throughout Europe and Northern Asia, so if you live in another part of the world, you won’t see this bird.

3. Tufted Titmouse

tufted titmouse bird on tree trunk
Image Credit: JackBulmer, Pixabay
Scientific Name Baeolophus bicolor
Range Eastern United States
Weight 0.6 to 0.9 ounces
Population 12 million

If you took away the tuft on the top of a tufted titmouse, they would look almost identical to a nuthatch, except the tufted titmouse is a bit larger. But due to their similar appearance and how easy it can be to miss a tuft on the bird’s head, many amateur bird watchers mistake the tufted titmouse for a nuthatch.

4. Wren

male carolina wren
Image Credit: Raul Baena, Shutterstock
Scientific Name Troglodytidae
Range Worldwide
Weight 0.3 to 0.4 ounces
Population 1 billion+

The wren is a bird species with multiple subspecies, and quite a few of those look like nuthatches. In fact, there are 88 different subspecies of the wren!

Not every subspecies looks like a nuthatch, but enough do, so it can be a confusing experience. It doesn’t help that there are at least a billion wrens worldwide, so you’re going to spot these small birds all over the place.

5. Whistler

Image Credit: Pixabay
Scientific Name Pachycephalidae
Range Australia and Eastern Asia
Weight 0.8 to 1 ounce
Population Unknown

If you don’t live near Australia, the Asia Pacific, or south-eastern Asia, there’s a good chance that you’ve never seen or heard of a whistler. They’re small birds, albeit larger than a nuthatch.

If you’re new to the area or just visiting where the whistler lives, it’s easy to mistake this bird for a large nuthatch. However, although they do have puffed-out chests, they have different colors and longer bodies.

6. Bushtit

bushtit perched on a branch
Image Credit: rzierik, Pixabay
Scientific Name Psaltriparus minimus
Range Western United States and Mexico
Weight 0.2 to 0.3 ounces
Population 4.3 million

The bushtit is an extremely small bird, and if you only get a quick look at them, it’s easy to mix them up with the nuthatch. They have longer tail feathers but the bodies are almost identical. They both have pointed beaks, but the nuthatch’s beak tends to be just a bit longer.

7. Vireo

White eyed vireo
Image Credit: Barry and Carole Bowden, Barry and Carole Bowden, Shutterstock
Scientific Name Vireonidae
Range Eastern and Northern North America
Weight 0.3 to 0.6 ounces
Population 560,000

While the Vireo is a small songbird, it’s not too common to mistake this bird for the nuthatch. Their bodies are just a bit too long, and while many have puffed bellies, they don’t have that signature puffed-out chest. Still, if you’re an amateur or catch a glimpse of them, it’s possible to mix up the two.

8. Warbler

a yellow warbler bird perched on a branch
Image Credit: simardfrancois, Pixabay
Scientific Name Parulidae
Range North America and northern South America
Weight 0.2 to 0.4 ounces
Population 200 million+

There are many different warbler subspecies, and quite a few can be confused with a nuthatch. Some have the same signature puffed-out chest and short body, while others have brighter colors and longer bodies.

9. Sparrow

harris sparrow
Image Credit: Sari ONeal, Shutterstock
Scientific Name Passeridae
Range Northern North America
Weight 0.8 to 1.5 ounces
Population 50 billion

There are many subspecies of sparrows, and they’re among the most populous birds in the entire world. In fact, if you combine all the subspecies, there are an estimated 50 billion sparrows out there.

They’re larger than the nuthatch, sometimes significantly so. Still, if you only catch a glimpse of a young sparrow, you might mistake them for a nuthatch. Most regular bird watchers won’t make this mistake, though.

10. Crossbill

White-Winged Crossbill perched
Image Credit: Canadian-Nature-Visions, Pixabay
Scientific Name Loxia
Range North America
Weight 1.3 to 1.5 ounces
Population 150 million

While some people might mistake a crossbill for a nuthatch, it’s not that common of an error. The crossbill is a larger bird with a much more pronounced beak, and they typically have a unique rust coloring.

But if you’re not familiar with the crossbill, you might misidentify one as a nuthatch until you take a look at both species side by side.

eagle divider Tips for Telling Birds Apart

The best way to tell different bird species apart is to get familiar with how each one looks! But sometimes you need a bit more help.

There are a few different things that you can do to help clear things up. First, look for distinctive markings or colors on the bird. Next, consider the time of year, as many birds only show up in certain areas at certain times.

Finally, if you’re viewing the bird near a feeder, consider their diet. Some birds don’t eat seeds or prefer different seeds, and this can help you differentiate what type of bird you’re looking at.

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Final Thoughts

Now that you know what birds out there look like the nuthatch, you’re in a much better position to identify exactly what kind of bird you’re looking at. You can even head out and track down other similar-looking birds if you want.

If you get the chance to spot any of the birds on this list, you’re in for a real treat, so keep your eyes on the sky and see what birds you can find!

Featured Image Credit: Gagat55, Shutterstock

About the Author Robert Sparks

Robert’s obsession with all things optical started early in life, when his optician father would bring home prototypes for Robert to play with. Nowadays, Robert is dedicated to helping others find the right optics for their needs. His hobbies include astronomy, astrophysics, and model building. Originally from Newark, NJ, he resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the nighttime skies are filled with glittering stars.