Family Nuthatches (Sittidae)

Least Concern

Sulphur-billed Nuthatch (Sitta oenochlamys)


French: Sittelle des Philippines German: Philippinenkleiber Spanish: Trepador filipino

Dendrophila oenochlamys


, 1877,

Guimaras, Philippines


See remarks under S. solangiae, to which it is most closely related; Hainan race chienfengensis of latter species may form link between them (both are yellow-billed, whereas S. frontalis has red bill). Geographical variation partly clinal, colour saturation and dominance of lilac tones in plumage increasing from N to S through islands. Six subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • S. o. mesoleuca (Ogilvie-Grant, 1894) – NW Luzon (W Cordillera Range), in N Philippine Is.
  • S. o. isarog Rand & Rabor, 1967 – Luzon (except NW).
  • S. o. oenochlamys (Sharpe, 1877) – WC Philippines (Panay, Guimaras, Negros and Cebu).
  • S. o. lilacea (J. Whitehead, 1897) – EC Philippines (Samar, Biliran and Leyte).
  • S. o. apo (Hachisuka, 1930) – Mindanao (except Zamboanga Peninsula), in S Philippines.
  • S. o. zamboanga Rand & Rabor, 1957 – W Mindanao (Zamboanga Peninsula), Basilan and East Bolod I.
  • Descriptive notes

    12·5 cm; 16·3–16·4 g (isarog). A medium-small nuthatch with yellow bill, iris and eyering, black forecrown, and violet-blue upperparts... read more


    Calls includes a full “chit” and thinner, ringing “sit”, often in series as... read more


    Pine (Pinus) and evergreen forests and forest edge, also clearings, relict patches of... read more

    Food and feeding

    Food insects and spiders (Araneae). Found singly, in pairs and in small groups, occasionally in flocks of up to 20 individuals; often joins... read more


    Birds in breeding condition in Jan and Mar–May, and breeding recorded in Cebu in mid-Jun (most Philippine passerines breed in period... read more



    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Fairly common to common in suitable habitat. Although rampant forest destruction in Philippines has no doubt greatly reduced the total population,... read more

    Recommended citation

    Harrap, S. (2020). Sulphur-billed Nuthatch (Sitta oenochlamys). 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).