Family Nuthatches (Sittidae)


Beautiful Nuthatch (Sitta formosa)


French: Sittelle superbe German: Schmuckkleiber Spanish: Trepador hermoso

Sitta formosa


, 1843,

Darjeeling, India


Has been placed in a separate genus, Callisitta. Lustrous blue coloration may suggest an affinity with S. frontalis and S. azurea, but E Himalayan centre of distribution and unique plumage pattern militate against this; relationships as yet inadequately resolved via molecular testing#R. Monotypic.


NE India (NE West Bengal, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh and Assam), S Bhutan, N, W & E Myanmar (Kachin, Mt Sarameti, Arakan Hills, and Salween–Mekong watershed E of Mong Hang), S China (Huanglianshan Nature Reserve, in S Yunnan), N Thailand (Doi Phu Kha National Park, in Nan Province), N & EC Laos (Annamite Range) and N Vietnam (scattered localities in N Tonkin). Records in NE Bangladesh and Khasi Hills in Meghalaya (NE India) require confirmation#R.

Descriptive notes

16·5 cm. A large nuthatch with highly distinctive plumage coloration and pattern. Has forehead to mantle black, feathers of forehead finely tipped off-white and those... read more


Calls include soft, sweet, liquid “plit” and explosive clipped “chit”, latter also protracted into... read more


Mature subtropical broadleaf forest with large, spreading epiphyte-laden trees; reported also from... read more

Food and feeding

Poorly known. Food insects. Found singly, in pairs and in parties of 4–6 individuals, occasionally up to ten and once even 21... read more


Poorly known. Season Apr–May/Jun in NE India, and fledged young being fed in late Apr in N Thailand; reported as being most vocal in... read more



Status and conservation

VULNERABLE. Scarce to rare and very locally distributed throughout range. Global range estimated at 376,000 km², with total population of fewer than 10,000 indi­... read more

Recommended citation

Harrap, S. (2020). Beautiful Nuthatch (Sitta formosa). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 6 April 2020).