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nuthatch (nŭtˈhăch) [key], common name applied to a number of Old and New World species of small birds of the genus Sitta, related to the titmouse and the creeper. The name refers to its habit of wedging nuts into crevices in trees and pecking them open. Nuthatches are unique in that they climb down tree trunks headfirst in their search for insects and spiders. Unlike the creepers, the nuthatches have straight bills and do not use their short tail feathers as a prop. Nuthatches are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Aves, order Passeriformes, family Sittidae.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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See more Encyclopedia articles on: Vertebrate Zoology

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