White-tailed Nuthatch

White-tailed Nuthatch Sitta himalayensis is a small nuthatch with diagnostic white base to central tail feathers. Occurs from India to Laos, with a small range in southern Tibet and western Yunnan. Like chestnut-bellied nuthatch, but best separable by uniform cinnamon-orange underparts, with no scalloping on undertail coverts; chestnut-bellied, by contrast, has underparts bold brick red (male) to cinnamon-brown (female), with chestnut of undertail coverts broken by white scalloping. Male chestnut-bellied often distinguishable from white-tailed by underpart coloring alone, whereas the paler female chestnut-bellied is less obviously different from the white-tailed and requires inspection of the undertail coverts. White-tailed also has less distinct white cheek than chestnut-bellied; white-tailed’s buffish-white cheek grades less contrastingly with its underparts. White on tail is not always perceptible, making this a less reliable separator from chestnut-bellied. Chestnut-vented nuthatch has mainly white underparts contrasting with rufous flanks, and has scalloped undertail coverts. Some races of Eurasian are buffish-orange below, but otherwise similar to chestnut-vented. Bill short, black, with grey base to lower mandible; feet brown. Loud whistles, squeaks, and trills. — 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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