The male has a deep brown head and underparts with dull green wings. It has a well defined black stripe behind the eyes. The female is duller than the male, with brownish tingeing on the wings and vague dark scaling on the lower throat.
The species was originally described by amateur ornithologist Allan Octavian Hume in 1790. Four subspecies are currently recognised. H. o. oatesi is found from Myanmar to north-eastern Laos and south-eastern Thailand. H. o. castaneiceps is found from southern China to central Laos and north-western Vietnam. H. o. bolovenensis is found in southern Laos and Vietnam. H. o. deborah is found in central Peninsular Malaysia.
Distribution and Habitat 
The Rusty-naped Pitta is found in China, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests and subtropical, tropical moist montane forests and bamboo forests. It is typically found from above 800m.
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