Family Nuthatches (Sittidae)

Least Concern

Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch (Sitta cinnamoventris)


French: Sittelle de Blyth German: Zimtbauchkleiber Spanish: Trepador ventricastaño

Sitta cinnamoventris


, 1842,

Darjeeling, north India


Often treated as conspecific with S. castanea and S. neglecta, but differs from castanea by its larger size, with longer, deeper, broader bill (3); crown only marginally paler than mantle vs obviously so (1); underparts fractionally paler (1); undertail-coverts slaty with broad white subterminal band and chestnut tips vs chestnut with mid-grey centres (2); parapatric distribution, or at least foothill vs lowland habitat (1); differs from neglecta in characters given under that species. Overlaps with S. nagaensis in parts of NE India and SE Asia, but they replace each other altitudinally. Birds in SE Bangladesh presumed to belong to this species, rather than to S. castanea. Race almorae intergrades with nominate in EC Nepal. Four subspecies recognized.

What do (1) and (2) mean? Learn more about the scoring system.
Subspecies and Distribution
  • S. c. almorae Kinnear & Whistler, 1930 – foothills of W & C Himalayas in Pakistan (Murree Hills and Azad Kashmir) and from N India (Uttarakhand) to EC Nepal.
  • S. c. cinnamoventris Blyth, 1842 – foothills from EC Nepal E to NE India (N West Bengal and most of Arunachal Pradesh, also hills of Meghalaya, Manipur and Mizoram), SE Bangladesh (Chittagong Hills), NE Myanmar (S to about Myitkyina) and S China (R Yingjiang, in extreme W Yunnan).
  • S. c. koelzi Vaurie, 1950 – NE India from SE Arunachal Pradesh (Patkai Range) S to Nagaland and S Assam (N Cachar), and adjacent NW Myanmar.
  • S. c. tonkinensis Kinnear, 1936 – S China (S Yunnan), NW Vietnam (including Cha Pa, Na Hang, Muong Moun), N Laos (S to at least Nape) and NW Thailand.
  • Descriptive notes

    13–14 cm; 17·4–20·9 g (almorae). A medium-sized nuthatch with long, deep, broad-tipped bill. Male nominate race has crown and upperparts,... read more


    Calls include mellow "tsup" given in conversational chatter as contact, and thin, mouse-... read more


    Over most of range open deciduous forest, especially sal forest (dominated by Shorea robusta... read more

    Food and feeding

    Food insects, also seeds and nuts. Seen singly, but more often in pairs or loose family parties; frequently joins mixed-species foraging... read more


    Season Apr–May in Himalayan foothills and NE India (Meghalaya). Nest a layer of moss or bark fragments, sometimes with a few dried... read more


    Resident; no evidence of altitudinal movements.

    Status and conservation

    Not assessed. Probably not globally threatened. Generally common, at least locally; scarce and local in Pakistan, and very rare in China. Very rare in Bangladesh, where birds... read more

    Recommended citation

    Harrap, S. (2019). Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch (Sitta cinnamoventris). 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 23 August 2019).