Family Nuthatches (Sittidae)


Giant Nuthatch (Sitta magna)


French: Sittelle géante German: Riesenkleiber Spanish: Trepador gigante

Sitta magna


, 1876,

Karenni, Myanmar


Previously thought to be possibly closer to Palearctic “S. europaea group” than to the brightly coloured predominantly tropical S. azurea and S. formosa, but genetic analysis places this species as sister to North American S. carolinensis#R. Races presumed to intergrade in S China (SW Yunnan). Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • S. m. ligea Deignan, 1938 – S China in extreme S Sichuan (Yanyuan and Miyi), W & S Yunnan (S to Longpeng and S Xishuangbanna) and extreme SW Guizhou (Xingyi, near Qianxinan).
  • S. m. magna Wardlaw-Ramsay, 1876 – C & E Myanmar (S from Mogok Hills, E from Menetaung Range and Kalaw, to Mt Nattaung, in N Karen), adjacent S China (SW Yunnan) and NW Thailand.
  • Descriptive notes

    19·5 cm; 36–47 g (ligea). Largest nuthatch, comparatively long-billed and long-tailed, with bold broad black eyestripes (can impart hooded appearance); in flight... read more


    Calls loud and conspicuous. Commonest call, repeated frequently during foraging, a distinctive very... read more


    Closely associated with mature pines (Pinus). Open hill evergreen forest of oak-chestnut... read more

    Food and feeding

    Food insects and berries. Usually found singly or in pairs, seldom in flocks (in spring), but in S China (Yunnan) recorded in autumn and... read more


    Poorly known. In Myanmar (S Shan State), a nest found in early Apr was a pad of material similar to that used by congeners, placed in... read more


    Resident; little evidence of altitudinal movement, but some suggestion of withdrawal from higher... read more

    Status and conservation

    ENDANGERED. Uplisted from Vulnerable in 2013. Uncommon to rare. Global population estimated at 1,500–2,800 individuals in total and declining, and estimated global... read more

    Recommended citation

    Harrap, S. (2020). Giant Nuthatch (Sitta magna). 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).