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Blue Nuthatch: Field Guide, Pictures, Habitat, and Info

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Blue Nuthatch

Habitat Tropical and subtropical forests,
Diet Insects
Behavior Active, forages in flocks
Nesting Cavity nester
Conservation Least Concern (LC)
Scientific name Sitta azurea
Lifespan: 2 to 3 years

Blue Nuthatch General Description

The Blue Nuthatch is a beautiful bird species that is easy to identify, with brilliant, dark blue flight feathers with light blue streaks. The blue color can change to dark purple depending on the lighting conditions. The Blue Nuthatch’s head and upper neck are typically jet black, and its wings can also be tinged with jet black.

They have a large, white eye which is easy to see against the black, with a large, black pupil in the center. The lower body of the Blue Nuthatch is a whiteish-tan color, which makes for a very intense contrast between its upper and lower body. This lovely bird has long, thin legs and toes and a short, thick, black beak. Its tail feathers tend to be a lighter blue with streaks of black and are relatively short.

Blue Nuthatch
Image Credit: Pixabay

Blue Nuthatch: Range, Habitat, Behavior, Diet & Nesting


The range of the Blue Nuthatch is relatively small. They are primarily found in Sumatra and Java, two islands in Indonesia. They can also be seen in Singapore and on the islands of Surabaya and Bandung. The Blue Nuthatch also calls Malaysia home, including Perak and Bukit Larut. They tend to like mountain forests and can be seen on Mount Padang, Mount Rabong, and Mount Benom, among others. Thailand is also home to the beautiful species.


The habitat of the Blue Nuthatch is tropical and subtropical forests and forest wetlands. They like moist forests much more than dry although they do tend to live at higher altitudes. You won’t find them in rural areas, although they might come by if you live close to the forests they call home. They would, however, much rather stay in dense forests where they’re well hidden.


Blue Nuthatches are very social birds and can often be found in small flocks with several other species. They like to climb up and down tree trunks while foraging for insects and get along quite well with other birds.

Blue Nuthatch
Image Credit: Pixabay


The Blue Nuthatch’s diet consists mainly of insects and arachnids, including spiders, moth caterpillars, click beetles, and other types of beetles. One fascinating fact is that, while foraging for insects on tree trunks, the Blue Nuthatch contracts the skin around its eyes to protect its cornea, a trait unique in the bird kingdom.


Blue Nuthatches seek cavities in trees, often making their nest in the holes left by woodpeckers. They typically lay three to four eggs which are an off-white color. The male and female build the nest together and help raise their chicks. The species breeds between April and July.

hummingbird divider How to Find Blue Nuthatches: Birdwatching Tips

Considering that Blue Nuthatches live in a tiny, particular part of the world, most people won’t find them in their backyard or be able to attract them. If you happen to live in Thailand, Malaysia, and some of the surrounding areas where these lovely birds reside, below are a few things to look for and listen for.

What to Listen For

The Blue Nuthatch is not a very vocal bird species and usually uses very short bursts that sound like “tika tika” but are made very quickly. They will intersperse these with a “rit, rit” vocalization and several others that are more like high-pitched tapping noises than actual birdsongs. Their winding rattle-like noise might be their most distinguishing call and sounds like “tr-r-r-r-r-rt.”

What to Look For

It’s hard to miss the contrasting colors of the Blue Nuthatch, with dark blue, black, and light blue feathers on top and off-white, tan on the bottom. Plus, you’ll easily spot their large, white eyes and black pupils set against their jet-black heads. Male and female nuthatches have minimal sexual dimorphism, with the females slightly duller in color than the males.

Blue Nuthatch
Image Credit: Pixabay

When to Look

The early morning and late afternoon are the best times to look for Blue Nuthatches in your yard. You’ll see them scurrying up and down the sides of tree trunks, searching for insects. They are very active birds and move quickly but usually stay in the same space for a long time while they forage.

Attracting Blue Nuthatches to Your Backyard: Tips & Tricks

Blue Nuthatches are similar in some ways to other Nuthatch species and will be attracted by some of the same things. If you live in their range, you can put out water for them to drink and bathe. You can also plant taller trees in your yard, which they like so that they can stay high above the ground, especially when nesting.

Another trick is to leave materials they can use for their nest in your yard. Materials like pet hair, fur, leaves, grass, feathers, and even shredded tree bark work well. You can put them in shrubs so the birds can see and grab them easily. While there isn’t much data about nesting boxes and Blue Nuthatches, you might get lucky if you want to try and attract them with one. Be sure to place it as high off the ground as possible. Ten feet high on a tree trunk would be optimal.

Blue Nuthatch Conservation: Is this Bird Threatened?

Thankfully, the Blue Nuthatch is very common in its typical range. Like many species, however, it does face the risk of habitat loss due to the destruction of forests. Also, little is known about the Blue Nuthatch compared to other species and birds in general. Still, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists the Blue Nuthatch as Least Concern (LC).

•You might also like: Common Loon: Field Guide, Pictures, Habitat & Info

hummingbird divider Conclusion

If you plan to travel to Malaysia, Thailand, or somewhere close by, you might be lucky enough to see a beautiful Blue Nuthatch. Active during the day and very social, they are best seen in tropical forests where they love foraging up and down trees. They are very social, but they aren’t much for singing. The good news is that they aren’t endangered, although seeing them in North America and Europe is out of the question.

If you’re lucky enough to be in their habitat, we wish you the best of luck spotting these attractive and interesting birds.

Featured Image Credit: Pixabay

About the Author Greg Iacono

Greg Iacono is a self-taught writer and former chiropractor who, ironically, retired early due to back problems. He now spends his time writing scintillating content on a wide variety of subjects. Greg is also a well-known video script writer known for his ability to take a complex subject and make it accessible for the layperson.