110. Sitta castanea

(110) Sitta castanea castanea Lesson.
Sitta castaneiventris castaneiventris, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. i, p. 123.
Sitta castanea castanea, ibid. vol. viii, p. 598.
This little Nuthatch breeds over practically the whole of Northern India as far South as the Wynaad, as far West as Umballa and Khandesh and as far East as Calcutta. I personally obtained it, though rarely, in both Nadia and the 24th Parganas in Eastern Bengal. It is extremely common from Eastern Behar to the Northern parts of the United Provinces.
I think the normal breeding months of the Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch are March and early April but Inglis has taken eggs as early as the 26th of February in Behar whilst Bingham took them as late as July and September round Allahabad. At Sitapur in Oudh Captain Cock, who took many nests, obtained them all in March.
The favourite trees for breeding in are undoubtedly Mango-trees, and these may be growing in a Mango-orchard, in an avenue or as a solitary tree in garden, cultivated land or well-wooded plain. In Behar the majority of nest-holes selected are at heights from 10 to 15 feet and Dr. Coltart informed me that he had taken many nests whilst standing on the saddle on a well-trained polo pony. Occasionally the nest may be as high up as 25 or 30 feet in a tree ; on the other hand it may be very low down, such as one mentioned by Cock, only 2 feet from the ground. The entrance to the hole is always plastered up with mud (?), which attains the usual solidity of Nuthatch masonry, the mud being sometimes extended on to the walls in the interior of the nest-hole. The circular entrance left is very small, often not more than an inch across. Unlike the hill Nuthatches, this bird makes only a very rough nest of scraps of moss, a few dead leaves or bits of grass ; often, indeed, the only material is the dead touchwood from the inside of the tree.
The eggs number two to six, but probably two is an incomplete clutch whilst, on the other hand, six is quite exceptional. Four or five are normal and four rather more usual than five. They only differ from the eggs of the Himalayan Nuthatch in being much less boldly and profusely spotted. In the great majority of eggs the specks are quite small and are scattered over the whole surface of the egg, and hardly more numerous at the larger end than elsewhere.
Sixty eggs average 17.0 x 16.5 mm. : maxima 18.2 x 14-.0 mm. ; minima 16.0 x 13.1 and 16.1 x 13.0 mm.
These Nuthatches, like most others, are very fearless little birds and very close sitters, seldom leaving the nest-hole until the masonry has been cut away. Often indeed they will allow themselves to be taken out by hand, returning at once to the nest when released. They will return to the same site, often to the same nest-hole, year after year, merely repairing the masonry and cleaning up the inside of the hole and perhaps adding a little fresh rubbish of sorts. Both birds take part in incubation, which takes eleven or twelve days.

The Nidification Of Birds Of The Indian Empire
Baker, Edward Charles Stuart. The nidification of birds of the Indian Empire. Vol. 1. 1932.
Title in Book: 
110. Sitta castanea
Spp Author: 
Book Author: 
Edward Charles Stuart Baker
Page No: 
Common name: 
Chestnut Bellied Nuthatch
Indian Nuthatch
Sitta castanea
Vol. 1
Term name: 

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