Family Nuthatches (Sittidae)

Least Concern

Snowy-browed Nuthatch (Sitta villosa)


French: Sittelle de Chine German: Chinakleiber Spanish: Trepador chino
Other common names: Chinese Nuthatch

Sitta villosa

J. P. Verreaux

, 1865,

China north of Beijing


A member of a species group that contains also S. whiteheadi, S. ledanti, S. krueperi, S. yunnanensis and S. canadensis. Present species formerly treated as conspecific with S. whiteheadi and S. canadensis (which see). Geographical variation partly clinal, birds in W part of range largest and darkest below and those in E smallest and palest. Validity of race corea has been queried, but supported by recent studies#R#R. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • S. v. bangsi Stresemann, 1929 – NC China in NE Qinghai (Daban Shan), adjacent C & S Gansu (E Qilian Shan S to N Min Shan), extreme N Sichuan and W Ningxia (Helan Shan).
  • S. v. villosa J. P. Verreaux, 1865 – NC & NE China from Ningxia (except W), E Gansu and S Shaanxi E to N Liaoning and C Jilin, S at least to mountains N of Beidaihe, Eastern Qing Tombs and Beijing Municipality.
  • S. v. corea Ogilvie-Grant, 1906 – Russian Far East (S Ussuriland S of 45° N, and possibly S Sakhalin), extreme N Korea (around Mt Paektu, in Changbai Shan, and scattered from N Hamgyong, Yanggang and Pyongan S to Pyongyang) and NE China (S Heilongjiang, S Jilin and S Liaoning).
  • Descriptive notes

    11·5 cm; 8–11 g. A small nuthatch with dark cap and pale supercilium; slender, sharply pointed bill may give distinct uptilted effect owing to straight culmen.... read more


    Three basic calls: type 1 is a prolonged, harsh, rasping “schraaa, schraaa” similar to... read more


    In China inhabits coniferous forest, probably chiefly pine (Pinus) and spruce (Picea... read more

    Food and feeding

    Food in summer almost exclusively insects, in winter (through to at least May) pine seeds and other seeds also taken; young fed entirely... read more


    Recorded in Apr, with nest-building in Mar, in NE China and Korea; normally single-brooded, perhaps occasionally a second brood (copulation... read more


    Summer visitor in SE Russia (Ussuriland), arriving mid-May; regular on passage in May on Bol’... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Common to fairly common in much of range; rare in Russia (Ussuriland). Status on Sakhalin I unclear, one record, in May 1983, of a pair near Yuzhno-... read more

    Recommended citation

    Harrap, S. (2020). Snowy-browed Nuthatch (Sitta villosa). 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).