Nuthatches (Sittidae)

Pygmy Nuthatch (Sitta pygmaea) - HBW 13, p. 131

French: Sittelle pygmée German: Zwergkleiber Spanish: Trepador Enano
Other common names: Californian Nuthatch

Taxonomy: Sitta pygmaea Vigors, 1839, Monterey, California, USA.
Forms a superspecies with S. pusilla; 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, and in recent limited phylogenetic analysis of mitochondrial DNA present species emerged basally to a clade containing the “S. canadensis group&r.. View all taxonomy...

Taxonomy: Sitta pygmaea Vigors, 1839, Monterey, California, USA.
Forms a superspecies with S. pusilla; 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, and in recent limited phylogenetic analysis of mitochondrial DNA present species emerged basally to a clade containing the “S. canadensis group”. Geographical variation slight; in particular, all Mexican races apparently very similar (chihuahuae often merged with melanotis) and taxonomic revision possibly needed. In California (SW USA), melanotis intergrades with nominate (on Howell Mt, in Napa County) and with leuconucha (in region of San Bernardino Mts). Proposed race canescens, described from Lee Canyon, in Charleston Mts (Nevada), in SW USA, considered indistinguishable from melanotis. Seven subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution:

  • melanotis van Rossem, 1929 - extreme SW Canada (S British Columbia), and mountains of W USA (Cascades, Sierra Nevada, Rocky Mts and desert ranges of Great Basin) S to California (Riverside County) and E to W Montana, SW South Dakota (Black Hills), W Nebraska (Pine Ridge area), NW Colorado (Douglas Mts), New Mexico and W Texas (Davis Mts, Guadalupe Mts), also extreme N Mexico in NE Sonora (San José Mts) and NW Coahuila (Sierra del Carmen).
  • pygmaea Vigors, 1839 - C coastal California (from Mendocino County S to San Luis Obispo County).
  • leuconucha Anthony, 1889 - mountains of extreme S California (S of San Bernardino Mts) and extreme NW Mexico (Sierra de Juárez and Sierra San Pedro Mártir, in N Baja California).

     See all 7 subspecies
  • melanotis van Rossem, 1929 - extreme SW Canada (S British Columbia), and mountains of W USA (Cascades, Sierra Nevada, Rocky Mts and desert ranges of Great Basin) S to California (Riverside County) and E to W Montana, SW South Dakota (Black Hills), W Nebraska (Pine Ridge area), NW Colorado (Douglas Mts), New Mexico and W Texas (Davis Mts, Guadalupe Mts), also extreme N Mexico in NE Sonora (San José Mts) and NW Coahuila (Sierra del Carmen).
  • pygmaea Vigors, 1839 - C coastal California (from Mendocino County S to San Luis Obispo County).
  • leuconucha Anthony, 1889 - mountains of extreme S California (S of San Bernardino Mts) and extreme NW Mexico (Sierra de Juárez and Sierra San Pedro Mártir, in N Baja California).
  • chihuahuae van Rossem, 1929 - NW Mexico at scattered sites in Sierra Madre Occidental from S Sonora and W Chihuahua S to Nayarit, SW Durango, NW Zacatecas and N Jalisco (S to Santa Teresa and Guadalajara).
  • elii A. R. Phillips, 1986 - N & NC Mexico in Sierra Madre Oriental, SE Coahuila (SE of Saltillo) and SW Nuevo León (Cerro Potosí).
  • brunnescens Norris, 1958 - SW Mexico in S & W Jalisco (Sierra Nevada de Colima), Colima and SW Michoacán; possibly also NE Nayarit.
  • flavinucha van Rossem, 1939 - E & C Mexico in W Veracruz (Las Vigas, Pico Orizaba), Distrito Federal, Morelos and W Puebla (Cerro San Miguel, Volcán Ajusco, La Cima, Popocatépetl).