Nuthatches (Sittidae)

White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis) - HBW 13, p. 139

French: Sittelle à poitrine blanche German: Carolinakleiber Spanish: Trepador Pechiblanco
Other common names: White-breasted Black-capped/White-breasted American/Carolina/Common Nuthatch; Florida Nuthatch (carolinensis); Rocky Mountain Nuthatch (nelsoni); Inyo Nuthatch (tenuissima)

Taxonomy: Sitta carolinensis Latham, 1790, in America, Jamaica = South Carolina, USA.
Relationships uncertain. Bears a superficial resemblance to S. leucopsis and S. przewalskii and sometimes placed in the superspecies formed by those two, although some authors doubt such a close relationship. Recent studies of mitochondrial DNA, while not addressing this problem, suggest that present species is close to S. himalayensis and S. europaea. Geographical variation relatively slight and largely clinal, upperparts (and, to lesser extent, underparts) on average darkest in Rocky Mts and Mexico, becoming paler towards W and especially E coasts; race.. View all taxonomy...

Taxonomy: Sitta carolinensis Latham, 1790, in America, Jamaica = South Carolina, USA.
Relationships uncertain. Bears a superficial resemblance to S. leucopsis and S. przewalskii and sometimes placed in the superspecies formed by those two, although some authors doubt such a close relationship. Recent studies of mitochondrial DNA, while not addressing this problem, suggest that present species is close to S. himalayensis and S. europaea. Geographical variation relatively slight and largely clinal, upperparts (and, to lesser extent, underparts) on average darkest in Rocky Mts and Mexico, becoming paler towards W and especially E coasts; race alexandrae sometimes merged with tenuissima, and oberholseri with nelsoni; population in NE of range (E Canada and NE USA) sometimes separated as race cookei, with slightly paler back, and with most females pale-capped, but differences from nominate clinal and/or not constant. Proposed race atkinsi from SE USA (Tarpon Springs, in Florida) synonymized with nominate, and N Mexican umbrosa (from Sierra Madre near Guadalupe y Calvo, in SW Chihuahua) with mexicana. Nine subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution:

  • tenuissima Grinnell, 1918 - SW Canada (S British Columbia S from Lillooet), and W USA in Cascades of E Washington and Oregon, W Montana, W Wyoming, Idaho, C & W Nevada, and E California (generally E of Sierra Nevada, S to Inyo County).
  • aculeata Cassin, 1856 - W Washington, W Oregon and W California (Pacific lowlands W of Cascades, and crest of Sierra Nevada and mountains in S), and extreme NW Mexico (Sierra de Juárez, in extreme N Baja California).
  • alexandrae Grinnell, 1926 - N Baja California Norte (Sierra San Pedro Mártir).

     See all 9 subspecies
  • tenuissima Grinnell, 1918 - SW Canada (S British Columbia S from Lillooet), and W USA in Cascades of E Washington and Oregon, W Montana, W Wyoming, Idaho, C & W Nevada, and E California (generally E of Sierra Nevada, S to Inyo County).
  • aculeata Cassin, 1856 - W Washington, W Oregon and W California (Pacific lowlands W of Cascades, and crest of Sierra Nevada and mountains in S), and extreme NW Mexico (Sierra de Juárez, in extreme N Baja California).
  • alexandrae Grinnell, 1926 - N Baja California Norte (Sierra San Pedro Mártir).
  • lagunae Brewster, 1891 - extreme S Baja California (Sierra de San Lázaro).
  • nelsoni Mearns, 1902 - Rocky Mts from N Montana S to E Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, W Colorado, Arizona (except SW deserts), W New Mexico, extreme W Oklahoma and W Texas (Davis and Guadalupe mountains), and N Mexico (NE Sonora and extreme NW Chihuahua).
  • carolinensis Latham, 1790 - C & E Canada from C & S Alberta (S from Lesser Slave L), SE Saskatchewan (S & E from Prince Albert), S Manitoba (S from R Swan and Winnipeg) and extreme SW & SE Ontario E to New Brunswick and Nova Scotia (including Prince Edward I and Cape Breton I), and S in USA to Gulf Coast and C Florida (E from North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and E Texas).
  • oberholseri H. W. Brandt, 1938 - SW Texas (Chisos Mts) and NE Mexico (N Sierra Madre Oriental S to W Nuevo León and, probably, interior SW Tamaulipas.
  • mexicana Nelson & Palmer, 1894 - W, C & S Mexico in Sierra Madre Occidental and associated ranges from SE Sonora and C Chihuahua S to Jalisco Michoacán, Hidalgo, Puebla, and WC Veracruz (Jalapa, Mt Citlaltepetl), and S Sierra Madre Oriental from C Nuevo León (Gulf slope) and SE Coahuila S to SW Tamaulipas and E San Luis Potosí.
  • kinneari van Rossem, 1939 - S Mexico in Guerrero and Oaxaca (Sierra Madre del Sur).