Family Nuthatches (Sittidae)

Least Concern

Western Rock Nuthatch (Sitta neumayer)


French: Sittelle de Neumayer German: Felsenkleiber Spanish: Trepador rupestre occidental
Other common names: Rock Nuthatch

Sitta neumayer


, 1830,

Ragusa (= Dubrovnik), Dalmatia, Croatia


Closely related to S. tephronota, the two together often considered an offshoot of “S. europaea group” (now confirmed genetically)#R, the harsh aggressive call and nest details suggesting particularly close relationship with S. cashmirensis. Race syriaca intergrades with zarudnyi in CS Turkey (Taurus Mts) and with rupicola in E Turkey and Georgia; both sometimes subsumed within nominate#R#R. Races plumbea and tschitscherini distinctive, having smaller bills, reduced facial mask, and different shades of upperparts and underparts, but museum material very sparse; moreover, HBW suggested rupicola probably intergrades with tschitscherini in NW Iran. Birds on Lesbos (E Greece) provisionally included in zarudnyi; others of this species in N & NE Turkey (E from Istanbul and N of Aras Valley) and NC & NE Iran (E of Elburz Mts, and S of that range to Qom and Kavir) similarly of uncertain racial affiliation, provisionally included in rupicola. Six subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • S. n. neumayer Michahelles, 1830 – Western Rock Nuthatch – SE Europe in W Croatia (SE from Crikvenica), S Bosnia, Montenegro, S Serbia, Albania, S Macedonia, S Bulgaria and Greece (including islands of Corfu, Lefkada and Zakynthos).
  • S. n. zarudnyi Buturlin, 1907 – Lesbos (E Greece) and W Turkey (W Anatolia and NW fringe of C Plateau E to Elmali and Ankara and, in S, to Taurus Mts).
  • S. n. syriaca Temminck, 1835 – SE Turkey E from Taurus Mts (absent S lowlands between R Firat and R Tigris), NW Syria (S to Damascus region), mountains of Lebanon and extreme N Israel (Mt Hermon).
  • S. n. rupicola Blanford, 1873 – N & NE Turkey (E from Istanbul, N of Aras Valley), S Georgia (S from S foothills of Great Caucasus), Armenia and SW & NE Azerbaijan (including Samaxi, in E foothills of Caucasus) S to N Iraq and NW & N Iran (E through Elburz Mts to Bojnurd, S to Kermanshah region, Qom and Kavir).
  • S. n. tschitscherini Zarudny, 1904 – Iranian Rock Nuthatch – W & WC Iran in Zagros Mts (from Kermanshah SE to Fars) and mountains S of Qom (SE to Anarak Massif).
  • S. n. plumbea Koelz, 1950 – SC Iran (mountains of S Kerman Province).
  • Descriptive notes

    13–13·5 cm; 24–37·6 g. A medium-sized pale grey nuthatch with variably broad black eyestripe. Nominate race in fresh plumage (autumn-winter) has top... read more


    Very vocal, with wide repertoire of loud, often trilling notes. Contact call a variable “pit... read more


    Areas with bare rocks, typically rocky slopes, cliffs and gorges in dry or arid regions, including... read more

    Food and feeding

    Food largely insects and spiders (Araneae) in summer, and nestling diet entirely animal matter; in winter mostly seeds, although snails (... read more


    Season mostly late Mar to Apr/May, at higher altitudes to late May, with presumed second clutches to early Jul; some pairs double-brooded.... read more


    Resident; some post-breeding dispersal, sometimes to higher elevations (e.g. in Bulgaria and Israel... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Quite common, although local, throughout most of range; rather scarce on Kerman massif, in S Iran (race plumbea). European population... read more

    Recommended citation

    Harrap, S. (2020). Western Rock Nuthatch (Sitta neumayer). 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 28 January 2020).