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Velvet-Fronted Nuthatch: Field Guide, Pictures, Habitat & Info

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Velvet-fronted Nuthatch standing on a tree

There are thousands of different bird species out there, and one of the most stunning species is the velvet-fronted nuthatch. But what sets these birds apart, where do they live, and what are they like?

Here, we break down everything that you need to know about these small, beautiful, and active songbirds.

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Quick Facts About the Velvet-Fronted Nuthatch

Habitat: Deciduous and evergreen forests
Diet: Insects and spiders
Behavior: Active, claws at trees, stay in groups of four to six
Nesting: In small holes or crevices on trees
Conservation: Least concern
Scientific name: Sitta frontalis
Lifespan: 1 year

Velvet-Fronted Nuthatch General Description

Velvet-fronted Nuthatch
Image Credit By: Tamilanban Subramanian, Pexels

One of the most striking characteristics of the velvet-fronted nuthatch is their overall appearance. Females have purple feathers along the top of their head and wings, and their underbody and front contrast this with a white appearance. They have a red-orange beak and black feathers between their eyes.

Males don’t have the same bright colors; instead, they’re darker along the back and have a brown front. They still have the signature red-orange beak with a black stripe of feathers between their eyes, though.

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Velvet-Fronted Nuthatch: Range, Habitat, Behavior, Diet & Nesting


The velvet-fronted nuthatch is an extremely beautiful bird, but unless you live in lower elevations along southern Asia, you don’t have much of a chance to spot this bird. They live in Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and southern China.

It’s a vast range, but regardless, you need to be on that side of the world to have a chance of spotting one.

Velvet-fronted Nuthatch on a wooden fence
Image Credit By: Skyler Ewing, Pexels


The velvet-fronted nuthatch lives in both deciduous and evergreen forests near or below sea level. You can find them in elevations up to 7,200 feet above sea level, but it’s much harder to spot these birds this high.


Since the velvet-fronted nuthatch eats insects, they have to be extremely active to get enough food. They’re constantly flying around, and they typically stay in groups of four to six for added safety.


You won’t find a velvet-fronted nuthatch munching on nuts or seeds, as these birds actively hunt for insects and spiders. They claw back bark on trees to expose as many insects as they can and then chow down on them.


Since the velvet-fronted nuthatch eats insects and lives in the forest, it makes sense that they’ve adapted to building their nests there too. They actively look for small holes or crevices in trees for extra shelter and build their nests there.

They’ll even build their nests inside the holes made by woodpeckers and other birds if they are large enough.

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How to Find the Velvet-Fronted Nuthatch: Birdwatching Tips

Velvet-fronted Nuthatch on a tree branch
Image Credit By: Daniil Komov, Pexels

What to Listen For

If you’re looking for a velvet-fronted nuthatch, one of the first clues might be the sounds that you hear. They’re songbirds, and they have many different songs that they sing. Keep your ears out for short, repeated songs.

What to Look For

When looking for a velvet-fronted nuthatch, seek out small openings and crevices in trees. This is where they like to build nests. Also, look for stripped areas of bark from the trees, as this is a sign that the velvet-fronted nuthatch was there looking for food.

When to Look

Velvet-fronted nuthatches are most active right before sunrise and sunset. This is when the temperatures are cooler, and they don’t have to expend quite as much energy to look for food.

They’re active throughout the day, though, so there’s a chance that you can spot these birds anytime the sun is out.

Attracting the Velvet-Fronted Nuthatch to Your Backyard: Tips & Tricks

Image Credit By: Pamula REEVES-BARKER, Pixabay

Unless you live in southern Asia, you’re not going to attract a velvet-fronted nuthatch to your backyard. But even if you do live there, you might find it challenging to get these birds to visit your yard.

They don’t visit feeders or eat nuts and seeds, and there needs to be plenty of mature trees around. So, unless you live near or in the middle of a forest, attracting these birds to your yard will be a challenge.

You can improve your chances by growing plenty of trees if you have the space and by putting out a bird bath, but it’s still a long shot.

Velvet-Fronted Nuthatch Conservation: Is this Bird Threatened?

Currently, the IUCN has the velvet-fronted nuthatch in the category of “least concern.” This makes sense because they have a wide range, and there’s nothing currently affecting enough of their habitat to put the entire species in danger.

So, if you’re looking to spot a velvet-fronted nuthatch in the wild, you have plenty of time!

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Final Thoughts

If you like the velvet-fronted nuthatch, you’re not alone. These small birds are extremely beautiful, and the females are particularly striking. Now that you know more about them, you can either start planning a trip to Asia to spot them or find a zoo with a few of these birds for you to view!

Featured Image Credit: phichak, 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.