English  | Français  | Español
Lists:  USA        
Number of species: 82

Select a species:

  
 
:   Clear  

Red-breasted Nuthatch - Sitta canadensis

Red-breasted Nuthatch has a partial preformative molt and absent to limited prealternate molts that are difficult to detect. Plumages differences by age are subtle, and especially by spring, many intermediates are difficult to age precisely. However, sex can be readily distinguished by plumage throughout the year.

Quick tips

  • Examine the crown - it is black on males, but a duller dark gray on females.
  • Compare the wing and the back - on FCF/FCU (HY/SY) birds the wing tends to be tinged with some brown, contrasting with the more blue-gray back, whereas on DCB/DCU (AHY/ASY) birds the wings and back are similarly blue-gray, although by late spring or summer some individuals show more wear on the wings, and may need to be considered M-FCF (AHY).
  • Examine the primary coverts - they are relatively broad and rounded on DCB/DCU (AHY/ASY) individuals and tend to have some bluish edging, whereas they are generally more narrow, pointed, and lacking edging on FCF/FCU (HY/SY) individuals.

Species account prepared by McGill Bird Observatory (2018). Last updated by Marcel Gahbauer (Mar 2022)

  • Reference (6)
  • Supplemental (0)
  • Contributed (0)
The molt categories displayed below may be filtered by month.

    Clear

Click on any image below to bring up the side-by-side comparison tool.

Individuals not in molt

FCJ - (HY: June - August)
Yellowish to whitish gape; some speckling on head and throat; crown gray (F) or blackish (M)
No images available yet
FCF - (HY: July - December; SY January - March)
Wings tinged with brown, contrasting with blue-gray back; primary coverts narrow, pointed, and with little or no edging; crown dark gray (F) or black (M)
M
Thumbnail - MG2-2650-35609-Sitta_canadensis_AOU_7_52-3681.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2650-35609-Sitta_canadensis_AOU_7_52-3679.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2650-35609-Sitta_canadensis_AOU_7_52-3680.jpg

Thumbnail - MG2-2460-40301-Sitta_canadensis_AOU_7_52-3696.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2460-40301-Sitta_canadensis_AOU_7_52-3694.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2460-40301-Sitta_canadensis_AOU_7_52-3695.jpg
F
Thumbnail - MG2-2600-15211-Sitta_canadensis_AOU_7_52-3684.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2600-15211-Sitta_canadensis_AOU_7_52-3682.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2600-15211-Sitta_canadensis_AOU_7_52-3683.jpg
FCU - (SY: March - August)
Wings tinged with brown, contrasting with blue-gray back; primary coverts narrow, pointed, and with little or no edging; crown dark gray (F) or black (M)
No images available yet
DCB - (AHY: July - December; ASY January - March)
Wings and back uniformly blue-gray; primary coverts relatively broad, rounded, and with bluish edging; crown dark gray (F) or black (M)
M
Thumbnail - MG2-2600-16752-Sitta_canadensis_AOU_7_52-3690.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2600-16752-Sitta_canadensis_AOU_7_52-3688.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2600-16752-Sitta_canadensis_AOU_7_52-3689.jpg
F
Thumbnail - MG2-1840-76970-Sitta_canadensis_AOU_7_52-3687.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-1840-76970-Sitta_canadensis_AOU_7_52-3685.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-1840-76970-Sitta_canadensis_AOU_7_52-3686.jpg

Thumbnail - MG2-1840-76970-Sitta_canadensis_AOU_7_52-3693.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-1840-76970-Sitta_canadensis_AOU_7_52-3691.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-1840-76970-Sitta_canadensis_AOU_7_52-3692.jpg
DCU - (ASY: March - August)
Wings and back uniformly blue-gray; primary coverts relatively broad, rounded, and with bluish edging; crown dark gray (F) or black (M)
No images available yet

Individuals in active molt

FPJ - (HY: June - August)
Yellowish to whitish gape; some speckling on head and throat; some natal down feathers remaining
No images available yet
FPF - (HY: July - September)
Crown and lesser and sometimes median coverts being replaced
No images available yet
FPA - (SY: March - April)
Wings tinged with brown, contrasting with blue-gray back; primary coverts narrow, pointed, and with little or no edging; some body feathers in active replacement
No images available yet
SPB - (SY: June - September)
Flight feathers being replaced, with at least some retained juvenile primaries or primary coverts that are distinctly pale and worn
No images available yet
DPB - (AHY: June - September)
Flight feathers being replaced, with retained feathers either distinctly adult (relatively dark and only moderately worn) or intermediate
No images available yet
DPA - (ASY: March - April)
Wings and back uniformly blue-gray; primary coverts relatively broad, rounded, and with bluish edging; some body feathers in active replacement
No images available yet

Applicable unknown plumage/age classes

Molt classes Age Months Key traits
M-FPF / UPU (FPF, SPB, DPB) U July - September Undergoing preformative or prebasic molt, but cycle is not reliably distinguishable
M-FCF / UCU (FCF, SCB, DCB) U/AHY July - March In formative or basic plumage (molt completed), but cycle is not reliably distinguishable
M-FPA / UPA (FPA, DPA) AHY March - April Undergoing prealternate molt, but cycle is not reliably distinguishable
M-FCU / UCU (FCU, DCU) AHY March - August In formative, basic, or alternate plumage (molt completed), but cycle and plumage are not reliably distinguishable

Number of species: 82

Select a species: