Giant Nuthatch (Sitta magna)

Distribution and Habitat

The Giant Nuthatch (Sitta magna) is found in China, Myanmar, and Thailand.

It is endemic to the mountains of southwest China, central and east Myanmar and northwest Thailand. Most of the documentation comes from Yunnan, China.

Only two areas of Myanmar and nine areas in Thailand report populations. Recent surveys in Yunnan found the species to be present at low densities in most areas of mature pine forest visited.

Its natural habitat is subtropical or tropical dry forests, particularly pine forests. It is falling victim to habitat destruction; the population is declining and becoming increasingly fragmented.

In northern Thailand they were found to use Pinus kesiya (Khasi Pine) stands both for foraging as well as for nesting.


This is a large, long-billed Nuthatch, measuring 19.5 cm (7.75 in) in length and weighting 36-47 g (1.3-1.6 oz). In the male, the upperparts are grey and the underparts are white.

There are wide, black feathers running through the eyes to the sides of the nape. The center of the crown is a pale grey, and the mantle is a little darker gray.

The vent area is a chestnut color with white markings.

The female Giant Nuthatch has features that are duller than the males, especially in the head markings and crown. She has a buff wash on the underparts.

The juvenile’s appearance is similar to the females, but it has narrower crown feathers. The headbands are duller, as are the upperparts. It has warm brown fringes in the greater coverts and tertial feathers.


Both parents take care of the young. The nestlings leave the nest in about 20-23 days.


The Giant Nuthatch’s song is a rapidly repeated gd-da-da or dig-er-up. Sometimes the call is more melodic: kid-der-ku with louder last note, or harsher gu-drr gu-drr gu-drr. There is also a trumpet-like naa sound and a clear pipingkip call.

Photo of author

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