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Chinese Nuthatch (Sitta villosa)

In the heart of Yuanmingyuan Park, I had the fortune of capturing a close-up glimpse of the elusive Chinese Nuthatch. A stroke of luck, indeed, as these birds are famous for their swift movements, making close observation a rare occurrence, except during nesting season when their fixed habitats offer a unique opportunity for observation. This species, scientifically known as Sitta villosa, flew by my lens as it darted in and out of a tree hollow, diligently carrying food for its young.

The Chinese Nuthatch, native to northeast China, Korea, and the extreme southeast of Russia, boasts distinctive features. Its upperparts display a charming blue-gray hue, while the underparts range from dull buff-grayish to cinnamon-orange, complemented by white cheeks. Notably, sexual dimorphism is marked, with the male having a distinguishing black crown, setting it apart from the female.

During the summer, the Chinese Nuthatch predominantly feeds on insects, a vital food source for its fledglings. As with other nuthatches, this species exhibits an interesting behavior of storing food. On the other hand, during winters, their diet shifts to nuts, seeds, and tree fruits, often participating in mixed-species foraging flocks.

One of the most captivating aspects of the Chinese Nuthatch is its nesting behavior. The breeding season takes place from late April to early May, showcasing their remarkable nest-building skills. The nests are typically situated high in the cavity of a conifer or in a rotten stump, while these agile birds navigate through small entrances effectively with agility. The pair collaboratively constructs the nest within a week, using plant fibers, feathers, and grasses to create a cozy bowl. The female incubates the eggs for 15–17 days while the male provides food. Once hatched, both parents engage in feeding the young, raising a single brood per year.

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