323. Sitta leucopsis.
The White-cheeked Nuthatch.
Sitta leucopsis, Gould, P. Z. S. 1849, p. 113; Horsf. & M. Cat. ii, p. 721; Jerd. B. I. i, p. 385 ; Stoliczka, J. A. S. B. xxxvii, pt. ii, p. 26; Hume, N. & E. p. 161; Hume 8; Hend. Lah. to Yark. p. 181; Hume, Cat. no. 249; Gadow, Cat. B. M. viii, p. 352; Oates in Hume's N. & E. 2nd ed. i, p. 196.
Coloration. Forehead, crown, nape, and a part of the sides of the neck glossy black ; upper plumage and the visible portions of the closed wings slaty blue; middle pair of tail-feathers slaty blue, the others black, tipped with slaty blue, and the three outer pairs with a subterminal patch of white on the inner web, the outermost pair also with a band of white on the outer web; sides of the head and lower plumage white, more or less tinged with pale fulvous ; flanks and under tail-coverts rich chestnut. The female is similar to the male.
Iris brown; upper mandible and margins and point of the lower black; remainder of lower mandible whitish-horny ; legs brownish green (Wardlaw Ramsay).
Length about 5.5; tail 1.7; wing 3; tarsus .7; bill from gape
Distribution. Throughout the N. W. Himalayas from Mussooree and Derali to Hazara and the whole of Kashmir at considerable elevations. Brooks says that this Nuthatch is common above Derali near the snows in the pine-forests ; Biddulph remarks that it is a permanent resident in Gilgit, and breeds at 10,000 feet; and Scully informs us that he obtained this bird in Gilgit only from the beginning of April to September, and that it is never seen in the lower parts of the valley away from pine-forests. It extends into Afghanistan, where Wardlaw Ramsay found it on the Safed-Koh range above 7000 feet, breeding.
Habits, &c. Stoliczka, who found this bird to be common near Chini, observes that it feeds chiefly on the seeds of Pinus yerardiana, and that its voice is a loud, uniform, melancholy call, uttered while it is busily engaged in securing a pine-seed in the bark of a large tree.
Capt. Cock took the eggs of this bird at Sonamurg in Kashmir late in May and early in June. The eggs are coloured normally and measure about .7 by .55.