One of only a few endemic island birds in Europe, the Corsican nuthatch (Sitta whiteheadi) is notable for its reliance on another island endemic for its survival, the Corsican pine (Pinus nigra laricio) (4) (5). A small, slight bird with a long, fine bill and long head (2) (3), the Corsican nuthatch has a characteristically short tail which distinguishes it from other western Palaearctic species in the genus Sitta (2).
The Corsican nuthatch is typically blue-grey on the upperparts and pale greyish-white on the underparts, with a buff wash on the flanks and belly. The sides of the head and throat are white. The male Corsican nuthatch has a contrasting black cap and eye stripe, while the female’s crown is much less distinct, being similar in colour to the rest of the upperparts. The eye stripe of the female is usually grey and not well defined. Both the male and female have a prominent white stripe, called the supercilium, running from the beak, above the eye and towards the rear of the head. The outer tail feathers of the Corsican nuthatch are typically black with pale grey tips, and often have whitish spots towards the ends (3).
The juvenile Corsican nuthatch is similar to the adult, although its plumage is typically duller, with faint brown tips to some of the feathers (3).
The Corsican nuthatch calls with a soft, whistled ‘pu’, which may sometimes be given in a rapid, trilling series ‘pupupupupupu’ just before or during flight. This species sings in a series of clear, high pitched, rapid and sometimes trembling notes ‘hidididididid’ (3).
- Length: 12 - 13 cm (2) (3)
- Wingspan: 21 - 22 cm (2)