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Himalayan Cutia - BirdForum Opus

Male Himalayan Cutia
Photo by Dave B
Borneo Highland Resort, Sarawak, Malaysia
Cutia nipalensis


17 - 19.5cm (6¾-7¾ in). A chunky colorful babbler, sexually dimorphic:

  • Heavy decurved bill
  • Rufous rump and long tail-coverts (so tail seems to be short)
  • Slaty crown above blackish mask
  • Black wings with bluish-grey wing-panel
  • White underparts with bold curved black bars on side of breast and flanks
  • Male with rufous-chestnut upperparts, female with olive-brown mantle with blackish streaks and dark brown mask

Juveniles are duller than adults with browner crown and fainter bars on flanks

Female Himalayan Cutia
Photo by Du Nok


Found from north India along the Himalayas (Nepal, Bhutan) to northeast India, Burma, adjacent south China (Tibet, Yunnan, Sichuan) to Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and peninsular Malaysia.
Scarce and locally, but in some areas numerous.


Nominate subspecies
Photo by Peter Merritt
Nepal, May 2015


Three subspecies recognized[1]:

It was formerly considered conspecific with Vietnamese Cutia.


Broadleaf evergreen forest, prefers areas with lots of epiphytes and moss. Also in mixed oak and pine forest.
Found at 1200 - 2800m in India, 1200 - 1500m in southeast Asia and up to 3000m in China.



Feeds on insects, larvae, pupae, gastropods, insect eggs, seeds and berries. Seen to feed on pine cones.
Outside breeding season in small groups of up to 12 birds, also in bird-waves. Creeps along tree trunks and branches like a nuthatch. Slow movements are typical.


Breeding season April to May in Bhutan, May to June in Nepal, March to June in southeast Asia. The nest is an open cup made of pine needles and moss, placed at base of a pine branch against the trunk, 3 to 3.5m above the ground, sometimes up to 20m in a broadleaf tree. No other information.


Resident species.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2018. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2018. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Del Hoyo, J, A Elliott, and D Christie, eds. 2007. Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 12: Picathartes to Tits and Chickadees. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. ISBN 978-8496553422
  3. Rasmussen, PC and JC Anderton. 2005. Birds of South Asia: The Ripley Guide. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. ISBN 978-8487334672

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