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Scotland welcomes invader from England – the nuthatch

A small invader from the south has recently begun to colonise Scotland – the nuthatch. Until recently the nuthatch was very much an English bird. However since 2005, this tiny woodland bird has been seen more and more north of the border, with Dumfries and Galloway providing an important stepping-stone for this invasion. But just how many are now being seen in Scotland? The British Trust for Ornithology would like to know.

As nuthatches readily come to gardens to feed on peanuts, and with a pair breeding in a nest box in one Dumfries and Galloway garden this spring, garden birdwatchers are ideally placed to monitor the fortunes of this enigmatic little bird. Steely-blue above and rich orangey-chestnut below, the nuthatch is a striking bird. Combine this with its black robbers eye mask and its ability to ‘walk’ headfirst down a tree or feeder, a sighting of a nuthatch is unmistakeable.

The British Trust for Ornithology has been monitoring garden birds across the UK since 1995 and has charted the northward spread of this small woodpecker-like bird into Scotland. Jacqui Kaye of BTO Scotland said,“It’s great news that the nuthatch is now established in Scotland. This beautiful bird readily comes to gardens to feed, a habit that will help us to chart just how far north it has spread. With a poor seed crop being reported in some areas this winter, we are more likely to see birds like this in our gardens. If you see a nuthatch in your garden this winter we would like to know.”

Jacqui adds, “Gardens are increasingly important habitats for all sorts of wildlife. The only way that we can monitor the changing fortunes of our garden birds is if people tell us which birds are visiting their gardens.”

If you watch the birds in your garden, you can help the BTO with this vital work. The BTO/CJ Garden BirdWatch survey is open to anyone that watches the birds in their gardens.

To report your sightings of nuthatches, or to receive a free information pack about the survey, please send your name and address details to GBW, BTO Scotland, School of Biological and Environmental Sciences, Cottrell Building, Stirling, FK9 4LA, email gbw@bto.org or telephone 01786 466560.

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