Family Nuthatches (Sittidae)

Least Concern

White-cheeked Nuthatch (Sitta leucopsis)


French: Sittelle à joues blanches German: Weißwangenkleiber Spanish: Trepador cariblanco

Sitta leucopsis


, 1850,

interior NW Himalayas


Until recently considered conspecific with S. przewalskii, but separated on basis of significant morphological and vocal differences (see S. przewalskii). Sometimes thought to be closely related to S. carolinensis and has been treated by some authors as conspecific with it, their contact calls being rather similar; has also been allied with the “S. canadensis group” and, again, some similarity in vocalizations. However, most comprehensive genetic study to date found S. przewalskii to be sister to all other nuthatches; present species remains unsampled#R. Monotypic.


NE Afghanistan (Nuristan S to N slopes of Safed Koh and Paktia Province), and Himalayas from N Pakistan (S to Kurram Valley and Murree Hills) E to Kashmir and N India (N Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand), and NW Nepal (Langu Valley, L Rara and Dolpo E to Tarakot, on Dhaulagiri Massif).

Descriptive notes

13 cm; 13·5–15·9 g. A medium-sized, relatively long-billed nuthatch with distinctive combination of black cap and whitish side of head, lacking black... read more


Call, constantly during foraging (but can be very quiet during latter stages of breeding), a... read more


Coniferous forest, especially fir (Abies) and pine (Pinus), occasionally mixed... read more

Food and feeding

Few details of diet; insects, and conifer seeds (of various species). Usually in pairs in spring and summer; at other times may join mixed-... read more


Season late Apr to mid-Jun; single-brooded. In apparent territorial display, male perches on top of tall fir, jerking body from side to... read more


Resident. May undertake some altitudinal movements, although recorded as high as 2400 m in Pakistan... read more

Status and conservation

Not assessed. Usually treated as conspecific with S. przewalskii. Unlikely to be at any immediate risk. Common to fairly common in most of range; rather scarce in... read more

Recommended citation

Harrap, S. (2020). White-cheeked Nuthatch (Sitta leucopsis). 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).