Yunnan Nuthatch

Yunnan Nuthatch Sitta yunnanensis is endemic to China. Ranges southeast Tibet into southwest Sichuan and across much of northern Yunnan to western Guizhou. In areas where the mature pine forest has been left undisturbed, the Yunnan nuthatch is still regularly reported; the extent to which it is able to make use of degraded forest is less clear. Listed as near-threatened. Occurs to about 4000 m in summer, to 1200 m in winter . Has bluish-grey upperparts, a black eye-stripe that fans out on sides of mantle, and uniform, whitish-buff underparts (usually whitest on cheeks). Narrow white supercilium joins on forehead. Combination of grey crown, narrow white supercilium, broad black eye-stripe, and uniform underparts should clinch an identification. Supercilium, however, may be faint or absent in worn plumage, leading to possible confusion with the similarly sized chestnut-vented and Eurasian nuthatches, which lack a supercilium. Note that chestnut-vented and Eurasian (as well as the much larger giant nuthatch, also in region) does not have uniform underparts; rufous undertail coverts are scalloped white. In addition, the chestnut-vented and Eurasian have brick-red flanks, and a narrower black eye-stripe. Chinese nuthatch also has narrower black eye-stripe, and a dark (black in male, grey in female) crown. Juvenile is duller with only faint facial markings. Slender bill black with grey base to lower mandible; feet grey. Wide array of nasal, squeaky, and scolding calls. — 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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