Chestnut-vented Nuthatch

Chestnut-vented Nuthatch
Chestnut-vented Nuthatch Sitta nagaensis, Tengchong, Yunnan, China, elev. 1730 m (5,680 ft.), February. (Craig Brelsford)
Chestnut-vented Nuthatch
Gaoligong Mountains, Yunnan, elev. 1700 m (5,590 ft.), February. (Craig Brelsford)

Chestnut-vented Nuthatch Sitta nagaensis is very similar to Eurasian Nuthatch S. europaea; the species may intergrade in Sichuan and Fujian. In China, montium in southeast Tibet, western and southwest Sichuan, western and southern Yunnan, and southwest Guizhou; also isolated population in Wuyi Mountains, Fujian. HABITAT & BEHAVIOR In higher country than Eurasian Nuthatch and Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch S. cinnamoventris; in Yunnan to 4500 m (14,760 ft.), in Wuyi Mountains above 1000 m (3,280 ft.). Habits like Eurasian Nuthatch. ID & COMPARISON Upperparts blue-grey from forehead to central tail feathers (outer tail feathers mostly black with large subterminal spot); wings dark grey. Black eye-stripe from base of bill to sides of mantle. Lower half of face and underparts uniform white, with buffish wash on female. Flanks and undertail coverts brick red (paler in female), the undertail coverts scalloped white. Chestnut-vented is slightly darker blue above, has duller and greyer underparts than Eurasian Nuthatch (in particular ssp. sinensis) and stronger contrasting flanks, but must be distinguished with care from female sinensis. Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch has underparts brick red (male) to cinnamon-brown (female). Giant Nuthatch S. magna larger, with much broader eye-stripe and crown paler than rest of grey upperparts; also lacks brick-red pigmentation on flanks. BARE PARTS Bill black with grey-blue base to lower mandible; feet black. VOICE Cricket-like trills; squeaky calls; typical metallic nuthatch calls; fast “football” whistle; loud, bubbling song. Pulsing dwip-dwip call of Eurasian Nuthatch seems to be missing in Chestnut-vented. — Craig Brelsford


Chestnut-vented Nuthatch Sitta nagaensis, trill, Tengchong, Yunnan, China, elev. 1730 m (5,680 ft.), February, by Craig Brelsford (0:20; 1 MB)

Chestnut-vented Nuthatch Sitta nagaensis, squeaky call, Tengchong, Yunnan, elev. 1730 m (5,680 ft.), February, by Craig Brelsford (0:21; 1 MB)

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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