Eastern Rock Nuthatch Sitta tephronota


Justification of Red List category
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size has not been quantified, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Population justification
The global population size has not been quantified. In Europe, the breeding population is estimated to number 16,600-53,500 pairs, which equates to 33,200-107,000 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015), but Europe forms <5% of the global range.

Trend justification
The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats. The small European population is estimated to be stable (BirdLife International 2015).


This is a species of rocky mountain slopes and valleys, cliffs, ravines and gorges. It may favour streams, and its distribution is closely correlated to a milk-vetch-wormwood-Rosaceae (Astragalus-Artemesia-Rosaceae) vegetation community, including almonds (Prunus dulcis) and pistachios (Pistacia vera). The breeding season is from late February/mid-March in southern Tajikistan, south-east Iran and Pakistan, from late March/April in the Transcaucasus area breeding begins from late March or April and from late April in eastern Kazakhstan. Both sexes build the nest, which is a flask-shaped structure built usually over a crack, cavity or hole in rock face, tree, riverbank or building. The hole may be a natural one, excavated by birds themselves, or the abandoned hole of another species. The entrance is walled up with a mixture of mud, saliva, excrement, resin, feathers, hair, cloth, insect fragments and even sweet papers, leaving a small hole or short conical entrance tunnel. The nest may be reused over several years. Clutches are typically five to seven eggs. In the summer it feeds mainly on insects and snails (Gastropoda) and from autumn to early spring it takes mostly seeds, such as those of apricot (Prunus armeniaca), cherry (Prunus) and wild almond. The species is resident with some post-breeding dispersal (Harrap 2015).


The species may suffer the effects of future climate change (Menon et al. 2009).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
Bern Convention Appendix II. There are currently no known conservation measures for this species within its small European range.

Conservation Actions Proposed
No conservation measures are currently needed for this species within its small European range.


Text account compilers
Ashpole, J, Butchart, S., Ekstrom, J.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Sitta tephronota. Downloaded from on 10/12/2023.
Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 10/12/2023.