Nuthatches (Sittidae)

Brown-headed Nuthatch (Sitta pusilla) - HBW 13, p. 132

French: Sittelle à tête brune German: Braunkopfkleiber Spanish: Trepador Cabecipardo

Taxonomy: Sitta pusilla Latham, 1790, Carolina, Jamaica = South Carolina, USA.
Forms a superspecies with S. pygmaea; sometimes considered conspecific, but differs in e.g. plumage, vocalizations, and various aspects of biology. Together, the two are sometimes considered closely related to S. himalayensis, shared characters including white at base of tail and nape feathers. Alternatively, superspecies may represent an older invasion of North America by ancestral stock of S. canadensis. Geographical variation slight, size decreasing clinally from N to S, with a “step” between more or less isolated population in Maryland (large, l.. View all taxonomy...

Taxonomy: Sitta pusilla Latham, 1790, Carolina, Jamaica = South Carolina, USA.
Forms a superspecies with S. pygmaea; sometimes considered conspecific, but differs in e.g. plumage, vocalizations, and various aspects of biology. Together, the two are sometimes considered closely related to S. himalayensis, shared characters including white at base of tail and nape feathers. Alternatively, superspecies may represent an older invasion of North America by ancestral stock of S. canadensis. Geographical variation slight, size decreasing clinally from N to S, with a “step” between more or less isolated population in Maryland (large, long-winged, deep-billed) and that of Virginia/North Carolina; distinctiveness of race insularis requires confirmation. Two subspecies provisionally recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution:

  • pusilla Latham, 1790 - USA from extreme SE Oklahoma, E Texas and W & S Arkansas (S from Ouachita Mts) E to SE Tennessee, C & E North Carolina, SE Virginia, tidewater areas of SE Maryland (S from Talbot County, mostly E of Chesapeake Bay) and extreme S Delaware, S to Gulf States (absent from grassland strip along coast) and Florida (S to Collier County).
  • insularis Bond, 1931 - Bahamas (Grand Bahama).