Family Nuthatches (Sittidae)

Least Concern

White-tailed Nuthatch (Sitta himalayensis)


French: Sittelle de l’Himalaya German: Weißschwanzkleiber Spanish: Trepador del Himalaya

Sitta himalayensis

Jardine and Selby

, 1835,

Simla, Himalayas, north India


Formerly considered conspecific with S. victoriae on grounds of sharing white in central tail feathers, but otherwise morphologically distinct and both occur on Mt Victoria (Myanmar), although probably separated altitudinally; genetic analysis reveals that present species is basal to S. europaea clade, which also includes S. cashmirensis and S. nagaensis#R. Birds from Lushai Hills (Mizoram), in NE India, described as race lushaiensis on basis of somewhat paler underparts, but variation slight and naming of geographical races considered unwarranted. Monotypic.


NW Himachal Pradesh (Chamba) E in Himalayas to NE India (NE Arunachal Pradesh, also from Nagaland S in hills to S Mizoram) and W & NE Myanmar, also adjacent parts of S China (S Xizang, W Yunnan); also NW Vietnam (Fan Si Pan, in NW Tonkin). Single records from E Myanmar (near Kengtung, in S Shan State) and N Laos (Tranninh Plateau) possibly refer to non-breeding visitors.

Descriptive notes

12 cm; 11–17 g. A small, dumpy, relatively short-billed nuthatch. Male in fresh plumage (Sept–Apr) has crown to rump dull blue-grey, sometimes crown and... read more


Calls include squeaky single “nit” and soft, mellow “chak” or “tschak... read more


Temperate broadleaf and mixed forests. In Himalayas and NE Myanmar middle-altitude oak (Quercus... read more

Food and feeding

Food insects, also nuts and seeds. Found singly and in pairs, in summer and early autumn also in flocks of up to ten individuals (... read more


Season mid-Mar to early May in Indian Subcontinent, and probably similar in NE Myanmar. Nest built by female, male occasionally providing... read more


Resident, with seasonal altitudinal movements.  

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. Common in Himalayas, perhaps occurring at highest densities in E; variously rare, uncommon and fairly common in NE hill states of India, where... read more

Recommended citation

Harrap, S. (2020). White-tailed Nuthatch (Sitta himalayensis). 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).