The varied sittella (Daphoenositta chrysoptera) is a small, around 10–11 cm long, songbird native to Australia and New Guinea. It is also known as the Australian nuthatch, orange-winged sittella and the barkpecker.
Sitta is a word taken from nuthatches. The origin of it is unknown. Chryso is Latin for "golden", Ptera for "wing" referring to the distinctive patch of colour in the dark wings.
This species inhabits a broad range, and its appearance changes depending on its location hence the name "varied" sittella. There are five subspecies:
- D. c. leucoptera (Gould, 1840) - northwest to north-central Australia (white-winged sitella)
- D. c. striata (Gould, 1869) - northeast Australia (streaked sitella)
- D. c. leucocephala (Gould, 1838) - east Australia (white-headed sitella)
- D. c. chrysoptera (Latham, 1801) - southeast Australia (orange-winged sitella)
- D. c. pileata (Gould, 1838) - southwest, west-central, central and south Australia (black-capped sitella)
The New Guinea subspecies are papuensis (Papuan or New Guinea sitella), sometimes given specific status alba (white sitella), intermedia (intermediate sitella) and albifrons (white-fronted sitella)
Its crown and head can be white, grey or black, and its body is either whitish or grey often streaked with black and grey. Its wings are black, with a broad bar in either white or cinnamon. The iris is dark orange, and the eye-ring legs and feet are orange-yellow. The beak is orange with a black tip that can extend as far as the base. Colouration completely depends on the subspecies, and certain subspecies are known to hybridize. In the future some subspecies may become species in their own right.
Flocks of these birds forage in trees of all heights, often descending down the trunks in a rather nuthatch-like fashion. Calls are short and rather high-pitched.
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- BirdLife International (2012). "Daphoenositta chrysoptera". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
- Latham, John (1801). Supplementum indicis ornithologici sive systematis ornithologiae (in Latin). London: Leigh & Sotheby. p. xxxii.
- Gill, Frank; Donsker, David (eds.). "Whiteheads, sitellas & whistlers". World Bird List Version 5.4. International Ornithologists' Union. Retrieved 24 January 2016.
- Field guide to the birds of Australia (ISBN 0-670-90478-3)
- del Hoyo, J.; Elliot, A. & Christie D. (editors). (2007). Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 12: Picathartes to Tits and Chickadees. Lynx Edicions. ISBN 978-84-96553-42-2
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