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Kidadl Team

SEPTEMBER 02, 2021

Sittella: 17 Facts You Won’t Believe

Check out these great sittella facts!

Sittella refers to three different species of the Neosittidae family, a family of small insect-eating passerine birds. The varied sittella is endemic to Australia, whereas the Papuan and black sittella varieties can be found in New Guinea. Out of the three species, the Australian varied sittella (Daphoenositta chrysoptera) is the most common and can be found around mainland Australia in abundance. They are said to resemble the nuthatch, a similarly small species of birds, though their distinct calls and foraging behavior helps to tell them apart. These songbirds can have a black, white, or gray head. These orange winged birds have distinct long toes on their feet and sharp, dagger-like beaks which help them to search and dig out various insects from tree trunks, branches, and from under tree bark.

For more interesting sittella facts, read on! For more relatable content, check out these peach-faced lovebird facts and cardinal bird facts for kids.

Sittella Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a sittella?

Sittella, or Neosittidae, is a family of passerine birds which can be found in Australia and New Guinea. It contains three species of birds with similar characteristics.

What class of animal does the sittella belong to?

Sittellas are birds and belong to the class of Aves.

How many sittellas are there in the world?

Due to the sittella family having three species, all of which are abundantly available in the wild in Australia and New Guinea, an estimation of the exact population of this bird is not possible.

Where does sittella live?

Sittellas can be found in New Guinea and in Australia. The varied sittella (Daphoenositta chrysoptera), the most commonly seen species of sittella, is native to Australia whereas the Papuan and black sittellas can be found in New Guinea.

What is a sittella habitat?

The orange-winged sittella with a black, white, or gray head is observed to inhabit scrublands, low-lying grasslands, and forests, whereas the two species found in New Guinea are found exclusively in rainforests. The ideal sittella habitat has been observed to be dense vegetation with plenty of tree branches to perch and nest on.

Who does sittella live with?

These birds are highly social and can be found living in flocks of around 8-12 individuals. They can be spotted flying about in groups of five or more during the day, and are seldom seen in pairs. They can often be spotted perching on tree branches, and foraging in small flocks.

How long does a sittella live?

Sittella birds are estimated to live for about five years.

How do they reproduce?

The breeding period of black sittellas has been observed to be in May and August, with the breeding periods of the other two species being unknown. Sittellas have been observed to be cooperative breeders, with several birds involved in the building of nests. Their nests are usually built out of twigs, grass, and roots and located on treetops and high branches, and are shaped like a deep cup. Around one or two pairs breed and lay their eggs in a single nest, with both pairs helping in the incubation, guarding of the nest, and feeding of the young chicks. The females lay around two to three eggs which are incubated by the females for around 18-20 days, after which the chicks are taken care of for another 19-20 days before they leave the nest.

What is their conservation status?

These birds are very common in Australia and New Guinea, with the conservation status of each of the three species being of Least Concern according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.

Sittella Fun Facts

What does the sittella look like?

The varied sittella is the most common species of sittella and is endemic to Australia.
*We've been unable to source an image of a sittella and have used an image of a white-breasted nuthatch instead. If you are able to provide us with a royalty-free image of a sittella, we would be happy to credit you. Please contact us at [email protected]

A sittella bird is small in size and resembles nuthatches very closely. The color of the plumage varies with the species, with the varied sittella (Daphoenositta chrysoptera pileata) of Australia having gray or white feathers streaked with white or gray. It has a short tail, tipped with orange or pink. It is an orange winged bird, with the tips of its wings being rust orange or cinnamon in color. It has an orange beak with a black tip and base. Its feet are an orange-yellow color as well. Males have a black-crowned head, and the female's head is also black, though without the crown. Their irises are a deep orange-amber in color.

The black sittella, true to its name, is uniformly black in color. It has a red face and light pink-tipped wings and tail, with yellow eyes. It has orange-yellow feet as well, and a black dagger-shaped beak that can bore through tree trunks and branches. This black-winged bird looks very striking with the red and pink patches contrasting against its deep black feathers.

How cute are they?

With their small size and beautiful plumage, these birds are very cute. They have a small black, white, or gray head depending on the species.

How do they communicate?

Sittella birds have simple, chirpy calls which are easy to identify. As they are non-territorial birds, their calls are not harsh, and they mostly use a 'chip' call to keep in contact with and assemble their flocks. Alongside this, there is a begging call used by the incubating females when they are in need of food.

How big is sittella?

Sittellas are small birds, ranging between 3.9-5.5 in (10-14 cm) in length.

How fast can a sittella fly?

Due to their short tails and broad wings, these birds are quite weak in flight and are unable to achieve much height, hence preferring to live in lowland forests and scrubs.

How much does a sittella weigh?

Sittellas have been observed to weigh between 0.3-0.7 oz (8-20 g).

What are the male and female names of the species?

There are no specific names for either sex of this species, with male birds being called cocks and females being called hens.

What would you call a baby sittella?

Baby sittella birds are known as chicks, fledglings, or hatchlings.

What do they eat?

Sittellas are insectivorous in nature, their diet varying from location to location. They have been observed to be impartial towards insects and eating a large variety of bugs such as ladybirds, weevils, leaf beetles, caterpillars, spiders, termites, wasps, and beetle larvae. They use their sharp beaks to search for beetle larvae in tree trunks and branches and among the crevices of the bark.

Are they dangerous?

No, these birds are quite friendly and not dangerous at all. Though it would be wise to remember that they are still wild birds and may attack if they feel threatened.

Would they make a good pet?

No, being wild birds that are endemic to their respective habitats of Australia and New Guinea, it would not be favorable to these birds to remove them from their natural surroundings and place them in an urban setting. They are used to climbing up trees and spending their time among other birds of their species, and would not thrive well in captivity, hence it is better to observe them in the wild rather than try to keep them as pets.

Did you know...

They are sometimes placed in the family Sittidae along with nuthatches, due to their nuthatch-like appearance.

Varied sittellas of Australia are the most common species of sittella and are also known as orange-winged sittella, black-capped sittella, barkpecker, or nuthatch.

The bird species can be distinguished by their appearance. While they might have a black, white, or gray head, the black sittella is uniformly black.

Sittellas are non-migratory and are resident birds of Australia and New Guinea.

Where are sittellas native to?

There are three species of sittella, two of which are native to New Guinea- the Papuan sittella and black sittella. The varied sittella (Daphoenositta chrysoptera) or black-capped sittella, the most common sittella species is a native bird of Australia.

What are the subspecies of sittella?

There are three species and various sittella subspecies, these being the varied sittella (Daphoenositta chrysoptera) or black-capped sittella of Australia, with five subspecies- Daphoenositta chrysoptera striata, Daphoenositta chrysoptera leucoptera, Daphoenositta chrysoptera leucocephala, Daphoenositta chrysoptera chrysoptera, and Daphoenositta chrysoptera pileata.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds from our lyrebird interesting facts and western kingbird fun facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable sittella coloring pages.

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