EN
White-browed Nuthatch Sitta victoriae



Justification

Justification of Red List Category
This nuthatch is known from just one small area of mountains, and is likely to have a small population which is declining as a result of habitat degradation, which qualifies it as Endangered. However, if future surveys discover populations in other nearby mountain ranges, it may warrant downlisting to Vulnerable.

Population justification
The population is estimated to number 2,500-9,999 mature individuals based on an assessment of known records, descriptions of abundance and range size. This is consistent with recorded population density estimates for congeners or close relatives with a similar body size, and the fact that only a proportion of the estimated Extent of Occurrence is likely to be occupied. This estimate is equivalent to 3,750-14,999 individuals, rounded here to 3,500-15,000 individuals.

Trend justification
Habitat degradation and destruction are continuing within this species's small range, primarily from logging and shifting cultivation, suggesting that moderate to slow population declines are likely to be on-going (Naing 2003). However, given the high altitudinal range of this species, it may not be at great risk from agricultural development (T. Htin-hla in litt. 2007).

Distribution and population

Sitta victoriae is only known from the southern Chin Hills of Myanmar. Historical records are all from the Mt Victoria area. There have been recent records from this site where it appears to be scarce, with 14 birds recorded in 1995, five records in a two-week period in April 2000, and 45 sightings during four months of fieldwork in 2001-2002 (Naing 2003). Other sightings include three birds recorded at nearby Mindat in 1995. Recent surveys of the adjacent central Chin Hills failed to find this species, suggesting that it is genuinely restricted to the Mt Victoria range (T. Htin-hla in litt. 2007).

Ecology

Birds exhibit a preference for oak Quercus semicarpifolia and Rhododendron arboreum forest between 2,300-3,000 m (Naing 2003), feeding in mixed flocks, generally in the outer branches of large trees. It appears to be most common below 2,500 m.

Threats

Forest up to 2,000 m has been almost totally cleared on Mt Victoria and some habitat from 2,000-2,500 m has been heavily degraded, but most above 2,300 m (the species's lower limit) remains secure from logging. The only major threat is slash-and-burn clearance for agriculture, which sometimes reaches these elevations (T. Htin Hla in litt. 2012).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
Mt Victoria falls within Natma Taung National Park, although no management activities have yet been initiated and it is unclear how effective protection is likely to become.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct surveys in montane forest in the southern Chin Hills to determine the exact range, status and conservation requirements of this species. Lobby for the increased protection and improved management of natural habitat in Natma Taung National Park, particularly at the lower forest fringes occupied by this species. Promote conservation awareness initiatives in Chin Hills communities aimed at reducing habitat loss and fragmentation resulting from shifting cultivation. Enforce regulations on logging, shifting cultivation and hunting within Natma Taung National Park.

Identification

11.5 cm. Dainty nuthatch with long, narrow white supercilium and chestnut sides. Whitish lores and white head-sides. White underparts with contrasting orange-rufous on head-sides to flanks. Juvenile has fainter orange-rufous on head-sides to flanks. Similar spp. White-tailed Nuthatch S. himalayensis has buffish-chestnut breast and belly and lacks white supercilium. Voice Probable song is rapid 9-12 note crescendo whi-whi-whi-whi-whi-whi-whi-whi-whi. Calls with subdued pit notes and insistent pee pee pee.

Acknowledgements

Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Gilroy, J. & Khwaja, N.

Contributors
Htin Hla, T.


Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2020) Species factsheet: Sitta victoriae. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 31/05/2020. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2020) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 31/05/2020.