Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch

chestnut-bellied nuthatch
Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch Sitta cinnamoventris tonkinensis, Xishuangbanna, Yunnan, China, February. (Craig Brelsford)

Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch Sitta cinnamoventris is mainly an Indian and Indochinese species, with range just touching China in western Yunnan (cinnamoventris) and southern Yunnan (tonkinensis). HABITAT Lower altitudes than similar Chestnut-vented Nuthatch S. nagaensis. ID & COMPARISON Similar to White-tailed Nuthatch S. himalayensis. Upperparts blue-grey, with long, black eye-stripe curving downward to sides of mantle. Well-defined white cheek patch contrasts sharply with underparts, which are brick red (male) or cinnamon-brown (female). Chestnut-vented Nuthatch has white underparts (except for contrasting rufous flanks), and White-tailed Nuthatch has buffish wash to white cheeks, which contrast less with its orange-cinnamon underparts. Race cinnamoventris has chestnut undertail coverts broken by white scalloping; in tonkinensis, the coverts are blackish with orange scalloping. White-tailed Nuthatch has no scalloping. BARE PARTS Bill black with grey base to lower mandible; feet grey. VOICE High-pitched, trilling whistle recalls horse’s whinny. Calls include soft whistles and sharp, metallic calls, similar to other nuthatches. — Craig Brelsford

THE NUTHATCHES OF CHINA has research on all 12 species of nuthatch in China. Click any link below:

White-cheeked Nuthatch Sitta leucopsis
Przevalski’s Nuthatch S. przewalskii
Giant Nuthatch S. magna
Beautiful Nuthatch S. formosa
Velvet-fronted Nuthatch  S. frontalis
Yellow-billed Nuthatch S. solangiae
Yunnan Nuthatch S. yunnanensis
Chinese Nuthatch S. villosa
White-tailed Nuthatch S. himalayensis
Eurasian Nuthatch S. europaea
Chestnut-vented Nuthatch S. nagaensis
Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch S. cinnamoventris


Daniel Bengtsson served as chief ornithological consultant for Craig Brelsford’s Photographic Field Guide to the Birds of China, from which this species description is drawn.

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