Family Nuthatches (Sittidae)

Least Concern

Chestnut-vented Nuthatch (Sitta nagaensis)


French: Sittelle des Naga German: Rostflankenkleiber Spanish: Trepador de las Naga
Other common names: Mountain Nuthatch, Naga Nuthatch

Sitta nagaensis


, 1874,

Naga Hills, extreme north-east India


Formerly considered conspecific with S. europaea, but the two differ vocally, and in area of range overlap in E China (Fujian) they differ also in ecology (present species montane, S. europaea in lowlands); further W in China, the two have been found at same locality in Sichuan and may overlap without intergradation, but breeding sympatry remains unproven, and more detailed study required. Birds observed in NE Arunachal Pradesh (NE India) presumed to refer to race montium. Those observed in S Laos tentatively included in race grisiventris; allocation of widely separated populations (in W Myanmar, S Laos and S Vietnam) to same race, however, seems untenable, and more detailed study likely to demonstrate that one or more hitherto unnamed races are involved. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • S. n. montium La Touche, 1899 – S & E China (SE Xizang, NC, C, W & SW Sichuan, Yunnan and extreme SW Guizhou; isolated population in higher mountains of NW Fujian), N Laos, NW Vietnam (W Tonkin), extreme NE India (NE Arunachal Pradesh), E Myanmar (N Kachin S to S Shan State) and NW Thailand.
  • S. n. nagaensis Godwin-Austen, 1874 – NE India (Patkai Range of SE Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, Cachar Hills of S Assam, Khasi Hills of Meghalaya) and W Myanmar (N Chin Hills).
  • S. n. grisiventris Kinnear, 1920 – SW Myanmar (Mt Victoria, and probably also other mountains of C & S Chin Hills), S Laos (Bolovens Plateau) and S Vietnam (Da Lat Plateau S to Mt Pantar).
  • Descriptive notes

    12·5–14 cm; 12–22 g (montium). A medium-small to medium-sized nuthatch, typical in shape and behaviour. Male nominate race has crown and... read more


    Calls include slightly squeaky “sit”, often as couplet (“sit-sit”), with... read more


    Hill evergreen forest, also pine (Pinus) forest (or stands of pines on drier ridges amid... read more

    Food and feeding

    No details of diet; presumably small arthropods and some seeds. Found singly and in pairs; outside breeding season also in small loose... read more


    Season Mar–Jun in NE India; in Myanmar, Apr to early Jun in E and recently fledged juveniles seen end Mar in W (Mt Victoria); Mar... read more


    Resident. May be some withdrawal to lower elevations in winter, but also recorded at or near top of... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Fairly common throughout range; locally common.  

    Recommended citation

    Harrap, S. (2020). Chestnut-vented Nuthatch (Sitta nagaensis). 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).