Velvet-fronted Nuthatch

Velvet-fronted Nuthatch Sitta frontalis is a distinctive tropical nuthatch with a bright-red bill. Large range extends from India to southern China, Southeast Asia, the main Indonesian islands, and the Philippines. In China, nominate in western, southern, and southeast Yunnan, central and southern Guizhou, and western Guangxi. Regularly recorded Guangdong and Hong Kong, but those birds may have captive origins. HABITAT & BEHAVIOR Forest, generally at low altitudes. In pairs and small parties, restlessly foraging for insects and spiders along branches and up and down tree trunks, usually in upper and middle canopy; almost never on ground. ID Unmistakable. Male has striking violet-blue upperparts, a velvety-black forehead, and a black postocular stripe. Red orbital ring and yellow orbital skin encircles conspicuous yellow iris. Underparts beige with lilac (male) to cinnamon (female) wash. Female lacks postocular stripe. Juvenile duller above and below and has cinnamon bars on undertail coverts. BARE PARTS Bill blackish in juvenile, red in adult. No other nuthatch has red bill. Feet brown. VOICE Sharp, metallic calls and rattling song. — 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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