Velvet-fronted nuthatch

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Velvet-fronted nuthatch
Sitta frontalis -Assam -India-8.jpg
In Assam, India
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Sittidae
Genus: Sitta
Species: S. frontalis
Binomial name
Sitta frontalis
Swainson, 1820

The velvet-fronted nuthatch (Sitta frontalis) is a small passerine bird found in southern Asia from Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka east to south China and Indonesia. It is a member of the nuthatch family Sittidae.

It is a resident breeder of all types of woods, although open evergreen forest is the optimal habitat.

It has the ability, like other nuthatches, to climb down trees, unlike species such as woodpeckers which can only go upwards. It is an active feeder on insects and spiders, and may be found in mixed feeding flocks with other passerines.

The velvet-fronted nuthatch has the typical nuthatch big head, short tail and powerful bill and feet. It is 12.5 cm long. It is violet-blue above, with lavender cheeks, beige underparts and a whitish throat. The bill is red, and there is a black patch on the forehead. The male also has a black supercilium.

Females lack the supercilium and have a warmer underpart colour. Juveniles are duller versions of the adult. There are four races differing in the shade of the underparts and the extent of white on the throat.

Nests are in tree holes or crevices, lined with moss, fur and feathers, or grass. Often the nuthatch needs to enlarge the hole, but a large hole may have the size of its entrance reduced by the building of a neat mud wall. Three to six eggs are laid, white speckled with red.

This is a noisy bird, often located by its repeated “sit-sit-sit” call.

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