108. Sitta himalayensis

(108) Sitta himalayensis Jard. & Selby.
Sitta himalayensis, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. i, p. 122.
The White-tailed Nuthatch breeds in the Himalayas from the Kangra Valley to Assam North of the Brahmapootra, at all elevations from 5,000 to 11,000 feet, but most often between 7,000 and 8,000 feet, though Blanford obtained it at 11,000 feet in Sikkim and Stevens at Tonglo, in the same country, at 10,000 feet.
It occurs regularly but not numerously and breeds at Naini Tal, Simla, Mussoorie etc. ; it is apparently more common in Nepal and is comparatively more numerous still in Sikkim.
It is an early breeder, commencing occasionally to lay in the end of March, whilst most eggs have been laid by the end of April, a few odd clutches only being laid in early May. It is true Thompson records it as breeding in the Kuman in May and June but Hume received no eggs laid in those months and Whymper found it breeding in that district quite early in April, whilst Mackinnon took a nest at Mussoorie on thel9th of that month.
The birds build their nests both in forest and in more or less open country but they seem generally to select Oak-trees standing in Oak, or Oak and mixed forests. Like nearly all Nuthatches they select some small natural hollow in a tree, of which they reduce the entrance in size to a very neat little circular hole about 1.1/2 inches or less in diameter. The material with which the “closure is applied” is probably composed of mud and berries mixed into a sort of clay, hardening into solid masonry which it takes a knife or chisel to cut out. I do not know personally exactly what the clay is made of but I have a strong suspicion that it is sometimes taken from termites’ mounds, for twice I have seen the Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch collecting something, not termites, from these mounds during the breeding season. The hollow selected for the nest varies considerably and, though generally it is a small one, a quite big one, deep down is sometimes chosen. Nor is the bird particular about the height of the hole from the ground, perhaps most often it is about 15 to 25 feet up. Col. G. P. L. Marshall, however, took one nest from about 10 feet and another about 5 feet from the ground. The nest itself is a pad of green moss, rarely of dried moss, and is lined with small black moss-roots, the whole fitting into the bottom of the cavity in which it is placed.
The eggs number from five to seven in a full clutch. The ground is white and they are thickly covered with spots and small blotches of dark red, generally more numerous at the larger end, where they may form an ill-defined ring. In one clutch of four taken by Whymper the very small blotches are almost confined to a narrow well-marked ring at the greater extremity, being sparse elsewhere. The secondary markings, if any are present, are confined to a few faint reddish spots.
In shape they are broad ovals, sometimes rather lengthened, the texture fine but the surface almost glossless.
Twenty-five eggs average 18.6 x 13.4 mm. : maxima 19.3 x 13.9 and 18.3 x 14.0 mm. ; minima 17.0 x 13.1 and 19.2 x 13.0 mm.

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: 
108. Sitta himalayensis
Spp Author: 
Book Author: 
Edward Charles Stuart Baker
Page No: 
Common name: 
White Tailed Nuthatch
White-tailed Nuthatch
Sitta himalayensis
Vol. 1
Term name: 

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