Nuthatches (Sittidae)

Eurasian Nuthatch (Sitta europaea) - HBW 13, p. 127

French: Sittelle torchepot German: Kleiber Spanish: Trepador Azul
Other common names: (Common/Wood) Nuthatch; European Nuthatch (europaea); Southern Nuthatch (caesia); Chinese (!)/Oriental Nuthatch (sinensis); Hondo Nuthatch (hondoensis); Kamtschatkan Nuthatch (albifrons); Yesso Nuthatch (clara)

Taxonomy: Sitta europaea Linnaeus, 1758, Europe and America = Sweden.
Forms a superspecies with S. nagaensis, S. cashmirensis, S. castanea, S. cinnamoventris and S. neglecta; has often been treated as conspecific with some or all of these. Geographical variation complex. Races usually divided into three main groups, buff-breasted “caesia group” (in W Europe, N Africa and Middle East), white-breasted “nominate group” (N Palearctic from Scandinavia E to Japan, S to E Tien Shan and N China), and buff-breasted “sinensis group” (C & E China), with large race arctica (NE S.. View all taxonomy...

Taxonomy: Sitta europaea Linnaeus, 1758, Europe and America = Sweden.
Forms a superspecies with S. nagaensis, S. cashmirensis, S. castanea, S. cinnamoventris and S. neglecta; has often been treated as conspecific with some or all of these. Geographical variation complex. Races usually divided into three main groups, buff-breasted “caesia group” (in W Europe, N Africa and Middle East), white-breasted “nominate group” (N Palearctic from Scandinavia E to Japan, S to E Tien Shan and N China), and buff-breasted “sinensis group” (C & E China), with large race arctica (NE Siberia) as a separate “group”; recent detailed morphological studies of Asian populations, combined with examination of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) from many localities across range (but excluding Turkey, the Levant, Iran and China), have revealed a more complex situation, but details not yet resolved. Present treatment tentative, based on incomplete molecular-genetic material: European “nominate group” (now including “caesia group”), within which mtDNA reveals a European clade, as well as a separate clade based on individuals of race caucasica (but other Middle Eastern populations not sampled and limits of Caucasian grouping impossible to define, hence provisionally combined with European clade); Asian “asiatica group”, comprising white-bellied N forms and buff-bellied SE forms, which shown by mtDNA to form a natural grouping (although birds from Hokkaido, in N Japan, differed by c. 1% uncorrected mtDNA, and some or all of Japanese forms may represent a distinct subgroup); “sinensis group” of China (no DNA data); NE Asian arctica, which differs significantly in mtDNA from all other races and may well represent a separate species (several reports of its occurring sympatrically with “asiatica group”). Also, “nominate group” meets or overlaps with “asiatica group” in two small areas (S Urals, and lower basins of R Kama and R Vyatka), with hybridization reported as limited and not significantly affecting the phenotype of adjacent “pure” populations; these two groups possibly represent distinct species. In addition, nominate race and caesia intergrade over broad front from E Denmark E to Lithuania and W Belarus and S to W Ukraine, E Bulgaria and NW Turkey; birds in N Turkey are intermediate between caucasica and caesia/levantina; race amurensis intergrades with baicalensis in Amur valley (SE Russia) and with sinensis in relatively narrow zone in NE Hebei (E China). Birds of this species in Altay region of N Xinjiang (NW China) of uncertain racial identity, provisionally included in seorsa. Races baicalensis, sakhalinensis, clara and takatsukasai often merged with asiatica, and race formosana often synonymized with sinensis. Twenty-two subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution:

  • caesia Wolf, 1810 - W Europe from Britain E to Denmark, Poland and W Belarus, S to N Spain (Cantabrian Mts and Pyrenees), Alps, Balkans (except Dalmatian coast), Greece and W Turkey (Thrace and NW Anatolia).
  • europaea Linnaeus, 1758 - S Scandinavia (including most islands in S Baltic) and W Russia (E to Volga and Vyatka basins) S to E Poland, E Romania, E Bulgaria, NW Turkey (N Thrace) and Ukraine.
  • hispaniensis Witherby, 1913 - Portugal, C Spain and N Morocco (Middle Atlas and C High Atlas).

     See all 22 subspecies
  • caesia Wolf, 1810 - W Europe from Britain E to Denmark, Poland and W Belarus, S to N Spain (Cantabrian Mts and Pyrenees), Alps, Balkans (except Dalmatian coast), Greece and W Turkey (Thrace and NW Anatolia).
  • europaea Linnaeus, 1758 - S Scandinavia (including most islands in S Baltic) and W Russia (E to Volga and Vyatka basins) S to E Poland, E Romania, E Bulgaria, NW Turkey (N Thrace) and Ukraine.
  • hispaniensis Witherby, 1913 - Portugal, C Spain and N Morocco (Middle Atlas and C High Atlas).
  • cisalpina Sachtleben, 1919 - Switzerland (S of Alps), Italy, N Sicily, coastal Croatia and SW Montenegro.
  • levantina E. J. O. Hartert, 1905 - S Turkey (SW Anatolia E to E Taurus).
  • persica Witherby, 1903 - extreme SE Turkey, N Iraq (Kurdistan) and W Iran (Zagros Mts S to Fars province).
  • rubiginosa Tschusi & Zarudny, 1905 - SE Transcaucasia (Talyshskiye Gory Mts and Lenkoran area) and N Iran (Elburz and Caspian districts E to extreme NW Khorasan).
  • caucasica Reichenow, 1901 - NE Turkey, SW Russia (in Caucasus S from basins of Terek and Kuban), Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan.
  • asiatica Gould, 1835 - C Russia (W foothills of middle Urals E to C Siberia and W shore of L Baikal) S to N & NE Kazakhstan (S to Kokchetau and Tarbagatay Mts) and W Mongolian Altai.
  • arctica Buturlin, 1907 - C & NE Siberia from Yenisey basin and Yakutia E to Anadyrland, upper R Penzhina and NW Koryak Highlands.
  • baicalensis Taczanowski, 1882 - E Siberia from W Yakutia (Vilyui valley) and L Baikal E to Sea of Okhotsk and N Amurland, S to Transbaikalia, C Mongolia and NE China (NE Nei Mongol and NW Heilongjiang).
  • albifrons Taczanowski, 1882 - NE Russia (S Koryak Highlands and Kamchatka Peninsula) and N Kuril Is (Paramushir).
  • amurensis Swinhoe, 1871 - Russian Far East (S & E Amurland, Ussuriland), NE China (N Heilongjiang S to NE Hebei) and Korea.
  • sakhalinensis Buturlin, 1916 - Sakhalin I.
  • takatsukasai Momiyama, 1931 - SC Kuril Is (Urup, Iturup).
  • clara Stejneger, 1887 - S Kurils (Kunashir, Shikotan) and N Japan (Hokkaido).
  • hondoensis Buturlin, 1916 - C & S Japan (Honshu, Shikoku and N Kyushu).
  • roseilia Bonaparte, 1850 - extreme S Japan (S Kyushu).
  • bedfordi Ogilvie-Grant, 1909 - Cheju I, off S Korea.
  • seorsa Portenko, 1955 - N & E Xinjiang (Altay region, in Altai Mts; Hami, in extreme E Tien Shan), in NW China.
  • sinensis J. Verreaux, 1870 - E China from S Gansu E to Shanxi, Beijing and NE Hebei, S to C Sichuan (to Wanyuan and W border of Red Basin), Guizhou, N Guangxi, Hunan, Jiangxi and Fujian.
  • formosana Buturlin, 1911 - Taiwan.