Skip to Content

Where Do Nuthatches Roost?

Where Do Nuthatches Roost?

Nuthatches stay active all day. But they rest and sleep at some time in various places. So, where can you find nuthatches roosting? Don’t worry! This article will help you understand where exactly they roost. Let’s understand below! 

7 places where nuthatches roost

Nuthatches have many places to roost. If you are wondering where you can find roosting nuthatches, the following places are ideal for them. Have a look! 

1. Natural tree cavities

The places where nuthatches live have numerous trees. So, they spend most of their time on trees for nesting and foraging for food. Forests are everything to them. Also, they love to use trees for roosting. 

The natural tree cavities are the most favorite roosting places for nuthatches. It covers them from wind, and rain, and gives them a comfortable shelter to spend their roosting period without worrying about predators and harsh weather. So, you are most likely to find one or multiple nuthatches roosting in natural tree cavities. 

2. Abandoned woodpecker holes

Nuthatches and woodpeckers have mastered the art of co-living. Woodpeckers create small and big holes on tree trunks. Have you ever wondered what happens to an unused woodpecker hole? Many other creatures, including the nuthatch birds, use the cavities for roosting, nesting, and living. 

Nuthatches find woodpecker holes and nests favorable for roosting. They have the perfect size for a small bird, like nuthatch, to roost comfortably. In small woodpecker holes, you can find one or two nuthatches roosting. However, hundreds of nuthatches have been found roosting in larger woodpecker holes. 

3. Roost box

Nuthatches might not always find the perfect tree and cavity in their environment. Also, finding woodpecker holes isn’t always possible. However, they still need places to roost. So, they seek artificial places for roosting. 

If you live in a place where natural tree cavities are absent, you can provide nuthatches with roost boxes to get shelter and rest. Although nuthatches might take time to use a roost box, they will start using them under harsh conditions like extreme winter or rainstorms.

4. Abandoned boxes if no cavities present

Tree cavities are the favorite roosting places for nuthatches. However, they look for alternative roosting places in the absence of natural tree cavities. The most preferred alternative for nuthatches is woodpecker holes. But what if there are no woodpeckers in the vicinity? There will be no holes for a nuthatch to roost. 

In such scenarios, nuthatches might depend on humans to find the perfect roosting place. Most prominently, they will use abandoned boxes in undisturbed areas to roost. They can use broken wooden cartons for roosting as they remind them of tree cavities. 

5. On dead trees

A dead tree might appear non-living to you. However, you’ll be surprised to know that life thrives on dead trees. Dead trees are the perfect roosting ground for nuthatches. Many breeds of nuthatches use dead trees for roosting, nesting, and living. 

Dead trees have decaying bark and trunk. They are easy to break and creating holes on dead trees is simple for small birds like nuthatches. Many birds already roost on dead trees. So, nuthatches can use the existing holes to roost. Also, they might excavate new cavities on dead trees to roost individually or collectively. 

6. Trees with broken tops

Trees stand against harsh weather and storms. They might get damaged during severe thunderstorms, facing broken tops as conclusions. Also, decaying trees might witness the top falling off, creating a massive cavity. 

These cavities on broken tree tops are ideal places for nuthatches to take shelter, hide, and roost. They can identify a covered hole on the tree top to keep themselves warm when roosting. Also, the wood near the broken top becomes porous and easy to be pecked by small birds like nuthatches. They can excavate new cavities at the top to roost and protect themselves from the merciless weather. 

7. Sometimes, crevices in buildings

If the area where nuthatches live has no trees or tree cavities, nuthatches explore other places to roost. They might search for woodpecker holes. However, in the absence of woodpecker cavities, they might take shelter in crevices on buildings. 

You might find a nuthatch pecking on your home several times. If they peck your home during times other than nesting, it’s probably to take a shelter and roost in your building’s crevices. They might find cracks on the outer surface of your home or abandoned buildings. Such cavities are ideal places for a nuthatch to roost. 

Moving on, let’s know more about roosting habits among nuthatches. 

What time of the year do Nuthatches roost?

Nuthatches roost all year round during the night. When a bird rests or sleeps at night, it’s often called roosting. Like other diurnal creatures, nuthatches stay active during the day and rest at night. It’s common for all nuthatches, regardless of their breeds. However, their roosting behavior varies according to the type of nuthatches. 

Their roosting duration might increase during winters when they save their energy to stay warm and survive the harsh conditions. For example, the Pygmy nuthatches may endure up to 40 hours without eating in their roost hollow, which allows them to endure brief periods of extremely harsh winter cold. However, you will observe them roosting for a shorter period during night in summer. 

Do nuthatches reuse their old nests?

Nuthatches, especially the White-breasted breed, reuse their old nest and cavities to roost at night or in cold winters. Nuthatches recognize their nests and often return to their cavities for nesting in next seasons or roosting at night every day. Sometimes, both of the partners in a pair roost in their old nest. 

Apart from their nests, they often use other birds’ nests to roost or take shelter at night. They might use woodpecker nest cavities or other birds nests to roost at night or during cold winters. 


Nuthatches have a unique style of living, nesting, and roosting. They have multiple roosting places in nature. So, if you want to observe them roosting, checking at the above places won’t disappoint you. You can find many beautiful nuthatches resting in those places at night and winter.