Algerian Nuthatch Sitta ledanti


Justification of Red List Category
This species, only discovered in 1975, is the only bird species endemic to Algeria. It has a very small range, being known from just four locations. It has very specific ecological requirements and habitat at one site in particular is severely threatened and declining in quality. Its overall population is likely to be very small and may be declining. It is therefore classified as Endangered.

Population justification
The population size may not exceed 1,000 birds. It is placed in the band 250-999 mature individuals, equating to 375-1,499 individuals in total, rounded here to 350-1,500 individuals.

Trend justification
The population is suspected to be in decline owing to the effects of fire, grazing by livestock and human disturbance (in the form of military actions against residual terrorist groups; R. Cheke in litt. 2007). However, there is no evidence to support the suspicion of a decline (R. Cheke in litt. 2007), and there is no estimate for the likely rate.

Distribution and population

Sitta ledanti maintains populations at four known sites in Algeria. There are c.350 birds within the Taza National Park on the Guerrouch massif, c.80 pairs on Mt Babor (where optimum habitat covers only 2.5 km2) and two further populations adjacent to those in the Taza National Park (uncounted, but evidently not larger than the Taza population) survive at Tamentout and Djimla. Searches elsewhere in the region have been unsuccessful, although it is likely to be present at other oakwoods in Lesser Kabylie (Isenmann and Moali 2000). All four known sites are within 30 km of each other, although separated by tracts of unsuitable habitat (Harrap 1992). It is possible that the total population does not exceed 1,000 birds (Harrap and Quinn 1996).


It is found in summit forest (c.2,000 m), in oak forest from 350-1,120 m, and in poorly regenerating oak forest between 900 and 1,400 m. Low altitude (c.800 m) habitats in Tamentout Forest consist of cork oak dominated-forest stands where nuthatch densities are likely to be much lower than at higher altitudes (c.1000 m and above) where cork oaks are replaced by pure deciduous oak species (Quercus canariensis and Q. afares) (Monticelli and Legrand 2009). In summer, it forages on tree trunks and in the twigs and outer branches of oaks, feeding on insects (mainly caterpillars and beetles) and spiders. In winter, it feeds largely on nuts and seeds of which the four seed-producing trees on Mt Babor appear to ensure a constant supply (Harrap and Quinn 1996). In Tamentout and Mt Babor, the breeding season is May-June, depending on weather conditions or possibly abundance of food, and perhaps generally later at higher altitude sites (D. Monticelli in litt. 2012). In Taza National Park, the breeding season is known to finish by late June (Harrap and Quinn 1996). Nest-holes are usually located 3-15 m up in dead fir trees and also in cedar and oak snags.


The summit forests of Mt Babor (although in a national park) have been reduced by fire, which also changes the habitat from rich mixed forest to a poorer cedar-dominated succession (Harrap and Quinn 1996). Large numbers of livestock cause lack of regeneration and an impoverished understorey (Harrap and Quinn 1996). The construction of a motorable track in the 1970s has led to erosion in the area and an increased risk of fire. Human disturbance occurs in the area in the form of military activity against terrorist groups (P. Isenmann in litt. 2007). Illegal deforestation takes place on Mt Babor and Tamentout (D. Monticelli in litt. 2009).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
The species is well protected in the Taza National Park (Harrap and Quinn 1996).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Monitor population trends through regular surveys. Collaborate with local communities to explore different forest management techniques on Mt Babor. Establish plantations outside the present forest perimeter to alleviate pressure for firewood. Conduct a reforestation programme on the southern slopes of Mt Babor. Control grazing by livestock. Implement fire control measures. Model potentially suitable habitat to predict population size and better target searches of sites where the species may occur (D. Monticelli in litt. 2012).


12.5 cm. Small, rotund, short-tailed nuthatch. Male has small black cap and obvious white eye-stripe, grey upperparts and white throat and buffy breast and belly. Female has a grey crown with some black feathers on the forecrown and has overall paler breast and belly. Both male and female have creamy-buff vent and undertail coverts with several diffuse grey spots. Voice Nuthatch-like call of tseet tseet. Birds give also a rather harsh, jay-like “schrr-schrr”, repeated a few times Hints Birds may join mixed-species foraging flocks outside the breeding season.


Text account compilers
Ekstrom, J., Pilgrim, J., Shutes, S., Symes, A., Taylor, J. & Westrip, J.

Isenmann, P. & Monticelli, D.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2020) Species factsheet: Sitta ledanti. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 15/08/2020. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2020) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 15/08/2020.