White-cheeked Nuthatch

Przevalski's Nuthatch
Przevalski’s Nuthatch Sitta przewalskii, Balangshan-Rilong Road, Sichuan, China, elev. 3460 m (11,350 ft.), August. (Craig Brelsford)
Przevalski's Nuthatch
Przevalski’s Nuthatch Sitta przewalskii, Sichuan, August. (Craig Brelsford)

Przevalski’s Nuthatch Sitta przewalskii and White-cheeked Nuthatch S. leucopsis are closely related, distinctive nuthatches without an eye-stripe and with a bleating call. S. przewalskii is endemic to China, occurring from southern Qinghai east to southwest Gansu and south to Sichuan and northeast Tibet; also in southeast Tibet and around Kunming in central Yunnan. S. leucopsis has disjunct western Himalayan range. HABITAT Coniferous forest, in summer to 4200 m (13,780 ft.), winter to 1000 m (3,280 ft.). ID & COMPARISON Has prominent white cheek patch washed orange-buff, the patch encompassing its beady eye; glossy black crown and nape; dark, bluish-grey upperparts; cinnamon underparts, with sides of breast darker cinnamon-orange; and stubby tail, mostly black at sides with large white subterminal spots. S. leucopsis has a whiter face, and white extends down to belly, leaving contrasting cinnamon flanks and vent. No other nuthatch in China totally lacks eye-stripe or other markings around eye. BARE PARTS Bill black, base of lower mandible grey; feet brown. VOICE Call a squeaky, goat-like bleat, repeated up to 30 times. — Craig Brelsford


shanghaibirding.com 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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