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The Sittidæ or Nuthatch Family

The Sittidæ are a well-defined family of little birds. When not occupied with domestic cares, they congregate in small flocks that run up and down the trunks and branches of trees in search of insects. The nuthatch most commonly seen in the hills is the white-tailed species (Sitta himalayensis). The general hue of this bird is slaty blue. The forehead and a broad line running down the sides of the head and neck are black. There is a good deal of white in the tail, which is short in this and in all species of nuthatch. The under-parts are of a chestnut hue. The Himalayan nuthatch is very partial to the red berries of Arisæma jacque-montii--a small plant of the family to which the arums and the "lords and ladies" belong. Half a dozen nuthatches attacking one of the red spikes of this plant present a pretty sight. The berries ripen in July and August, and at Naini Tal one rarely comes across a complete spike because the nuthatches pounce upon every berry the moment it is ripe.