Velvet-fronted Nuthatch taking a spider

on 12th April 2009

The Velvet-fronted Nuthatch (Sitta frontalis) is an attractive bird with its bright violet-blue plumage, a black patch on its crown and red bill. It is a resident of Malaysia but an extremely rare non-breeding visitor to Singapore, seen only a few times within the 1990s.

This is a forest bird, found actively along tree trunks, less frequently on branches and occasionally on fallen logs. It moves down vertical surface head first and can even be seen hanging upside down.

According to Adrian Lim who photographed it catching a spider, it moved almost down to the ground, then up again. It caught the spider, paused for a few seconds and then moved upwards along the tree trunk.

The bill is well adapted for probing and praising off surface bark fragments. “Probably, most food is taken direct from surfaces; but none has been identified.” – so reports Wells (2007).

Harrap (2008) has more information of food, reporting insects and small invertebrates like spiders. Snails, seeds, nuts have also been reported.

The above image by Adrian Lim shows the nuthatch catching a spider during its forage along the tree trunk.

This post is a cooperative effort between and BESG to bring the study of bird behaviour through photography to a wider audience.

Harrap, S., 2008. Family Sittidae (Nuthatchers). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. & D. A. Christie. eds. Handbook of the birds of the world. Vol.135. Peduline-tits to shrikes. Lynx Editions, Barcelona. Pp. 102-145.
2. Wells, D.R., 2007. The birds of the Thai-Malay Peninsular. Vol. II, Passerines. Christopher Helm, London. 800 pp.

If you like this post please tap on the Like button at the left bottom of page. Any views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the authors/contributors, and are not endorsed by the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM, NUS) or its affiliated institutions. Readers are encouraged to use their discretion before making any decisions or judgements based on the information presented.

YC Wee

Dr Wee played a significant role as a green advocate in Singapore through his extensive involvement in various organizations and committees: as Secretary and Chairman for the Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch), and with the Nature Society (Singapore) as founding President (1978-1995). He has also served in the Nature Reserve Board (1987-1989), Nature Reserves Committee (1990-1996), National Council on the Environment/Singapore Environment Council (1992-1996), Work-Group on Nature Conservation (1992) and Inter-Varsity Council on the Environment (1995-1997). He is Patron of the Singapore Gardening Society and was appointed Honorary Museum Associate of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM) in 2012. In 2005, Dr Wee started the Bird Ecology Study Group. With more than 6,000 entries, the website has become a valuable resource consulted by students, birdwatchers and researchers locally and internationally. The views and opinions expressed in this article are his own, and do not represent those of LKCNHM, the National University of Singapore or its affiliated institutions.

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