Red-breasted Nuthatch
(Sitta canadensis)


Picture of bird
© Chuck Kling
For additional photos and vocalizations, visit Dendroica. (Link opens in a new window.)

The Red-breasted Nuthatch is widespread throughout Canada's coniferous and mixed-coniferous forests, with a range that spans the country from the east coast to the west coast. The species undergoes irruptive movements and follows cone production and insect outbreaks. Results from the Breeding Bird Survey and the Christmas Bird Count demonstrate wide year-to-year fluctuations, but overall, a substantial increase in the national population since 1970.


Main designations for the species
DesignationStatusDateSubspecies, population
IUCN (Global)Least concern2018 
Wild Species (Canada)Secure2015 

Population status

Geographic area or populationPopulation change relative to ~1970ReliabilityStatus in relation to goal
CanadaLarge IncreaseHighAt an Acceptable Level

Population estimate

Geographic area or populationPopulation estimate
Canada5,000,000 - 50,000,000 adults

Distribution maps


Migration strategy, occurrence


Responsibility for conservation

Geographic areaResponsibility based on % of global population

General nesting period in Canada

Nesting period starts between mid-April and late May and ends between mid-July and late July, depending on the region. Before or after this period, the probability of an active nest is lower.

Conservation and management

With an increasing population, there are currently no major conservation concerns for Red-breasted Nuthatch in Canada. However, as a species considered to be a weak excavator, it requires "soft" snags and may be vulnerable to logging practices that do not preserve them (Ghalambor and Martin 1999). The species' increase in abundance has been linked to outbreaks of bark beetle and high densities of Downy Woodpeckers, which increase the abundance of secondary tree cavities (Norris and Martin 2010).


Bird conservation region strategies

Environment and Climate Change Canada and partners have developed Bird Conservation Region Strategies in each of Canada’s Bird Conservation Regions (BCRs). In these strategies, selected species are identified as priorities for one or more of the following reasons:

  • conservation concerns (i.e., species vulnerable due to population size, distribution, population trend, abundance, or threats)
  • stewardship responsibilities (i.e., species that typify the regional avifauna or have a large proportion of their range or population in the sub-region)
  • management concerns (i.e., species that require ongoing management because of their socio-economic importance as game species, or because of their impacts on other species or habitats)
  • other concerns (i.e., species deemed a priority by regional experts for other reasons than those listed above or because they are listed as species at risk or concern at the provincial level)

Select any of the sub-regions below to view the BCR strategy for additional details.

BCRs, marine biogeographic units, and sub-regions in which the species is listed as a priority
RegionSub-region and priority type