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White-naped Tit Parus nuchalis
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
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This species has a small population that is thought to be undergoing a rapid population decline as a result of the loss, degradation and fragmentation of its tropical thorn-scrub habitat. It has a moderately large range, but populations are severely fragmented and low in number. It therefore qualifies as Vulnerable.

Taxonomic source(s)
Sibley, C. G.; Monroe, B. L. 1990. Distribution and taxonomy of birds of the world. Yale University Press, New Haven, USA.

Taxonomic note
The BirdLife Taxonomic Working Group is aware that phylogenetic analyses have been published which have proposed generic rearrangements which may affect this species, but prefers to wait until work by other taxonomists reveals how these changes affect the entire groups involved.

12 cm. Robust, strongly patterned, mainly black-and-white tit. Black mantle, scapulars and wing-coverts, black-and-white, boldly patterned, tertials, secondaries and primaries. Yellowish wash to flanks and sides of breast. Voice Song a loud pee-pee-pee-pee-pee. Other calls include scolding tchrrr, mellow pit, abrupt tink and thin tip-it.

Distribution and population
Parus nuchalis is endemic to India, where it occurs in two isolated populations: one in central and southern Rajasthan, Kutch and northern Gujarat in the north-west, and the other in the Eastern Ghats of southern Andhra Pradesh, northern Tamil Nadu and Karnataka in the south. It is a rare species, with a maximum of 165 records pertaining to 250 individuals over the last 150 years (Trivedi 2009). It appears to have declined substantially. Most recent records are from Gujarat and Rajasthan, where it is patchily distributed and found at low densities in Kutch, Palanpur, Pali, Jodhpur, Jalore, Sirohi, Ajmere, Jaipur and Nagaur (Tiwari 2001). There are recent records from only one site in Karnataka (Lott and Lott 1999), and none in Tamil Nadu (Sumbramanya et al. undated). There are three recent sightings from Arogyavaram, Chittoor district, Andhra Pradesh (Jones 2007), involving a maximum of just two individuals. The South India population may now be very small. Previous reports from Wynaad District, Kerala, are thought to be erroneous (J. Praveen in litt. 2007). A recent sighting of the species in Thar Desert of Rajasthan (Dookia 2007) suggests that a population could persist in extensive Acacia plantations along the Indira Gandhi Canal Project.

Population justification
The population is estimated to number 2,500-9,999 mature individuals, from analysis of records in BirdLife International (2001), who concluded that the distribution was very patchy, the species occurred at low densities, and overall numbers must be very low, i.e. fewer than 10,000. This estimate equates to 3,750-14,999 individuals, rounded here to 3,500-15,000 individuals.

Trend justification
Recent surveys have found the species to be scarce across its range, and absent from many intervening areas between known sites (Tiwari 2001). It is therefore suspected to be declining rapidly in association with the loss and degradation of its habitat.

It inhabits tropical, dry thorn-scrub forests, particularly those dominated by Acacia species, from the lowlands and foothills up to at least 700 m, occasionally straying into gardens, vegetated streambeds and irrigated crop fields during drought years. The species has been observed to feed on the fruits of Capparis decidua, although it is unclear whether this is because of the fruits themselves or the insects that live within them (Joshua et al. 2007). It has elsewhere been observed to take insects, the fruits of Maytenus emarginatus and inflorescences of Butea monosperma (Trivedi 2009).  The southern population also occurs in dry deciduous forest. It breeds in tree cavities, and may be restricted to forest areas with sufficient dead or dying trees (Tiwari 2001). It breeds during the monsoon (May-August), some populations then dispersing.

The most serious threats are those driving the loss, degradation and fragmentation of tropical thorn-scrub forest, such as lopping and cutting for fuelwood and illegal charcoal making, clearance for agricultural land and settlement construction, and over-grazing. The species nests in cavities in old trees, many of which are now felled, leading to nesting failure; it often uses old nest holes made by Yellow-crowned Woodpecker Dendrocopos mahrattensis, and the low abundance of this species at some sites may be limiting the population (Trivedi 2009). In Kutch, an estimated 100 Acacia trees per day are felled for the collection of twigs for toothbrush manufacture (Tiwari 2001). Remaining areas of suitable habitat are further threatened by proposed cement factories, stone quarrying and gypsum mining, including within existing protected areas. The spread of the non-native shrubs Prosopis glandulosa and P. chilensis is also having deleterious effects on dry thorn-scrub. There is a lack of awareness of these threats among enforcement staff (Trivedi 2009).

Conservation Actions Underway
There are records from two protected areas, Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary, Tamil Nadu and Anshi National Park, Karnataka. However, recent surveys have failed to find the species in either park, and Anshi apparently does not support any suitable habitat (S. Subramanya in litt. 2007). It may occur at Baludhara Jessore Sloth Bear Sanctuary, Gujarat. Conservation Actions Proposed
Monitor sites across the species's range to determine rates of habitat loss and population decline. Establish a network of protected areas encompassing tracts of dry thorn-scrub forest supporting significant populations. Promote and integrate conservation initiatives within rural development schemes to reduce the exploitation of dry thorn-scrub forest (particularly dead and decaying trees), e.g. through the introduction of fuel-efficient stoves and (in Kutch) the provision of toothbrushes and paste/powder. Consolidate knowledge of the status, distribution and movements of this species in southern India in order to target conservation activities. Survey Acacia plantations along the Indira Gandhi Canal Project in the Thar Desert, Rajasthan. Conduct molecular analyses to determine the relationship between the two populations.

BirdLife International. 2001. Threatened birds of Asia: the BirdLife International Red Data Book. BirdLife International, Cambridge, U.K.

Dookia, S. 2007. First record of Pied Tit Parus nuchalis in Thar Desert of Rajasthan. Indian Birds 3(3): 112-113.

Jones, S. 2007. Sightings of White-naped Tit Parus nuchalis in Arogyavaram, Chittoor district, Andhra Pradesh. Indian Birds 3(5): 198-199.

Joshua, J.; Gokula, V.; Sunderraj, W. 2007. Status of Pied Tit Parus nuchalis in Narayan Sarovar Sanctuary, Gujarat, India. Indian Birds 3(3): 91-93.

Lott, E. J.; Lott, C. 1999. On the occurrence of White-naped Tit (Parus nuchalis) in southern India. Forktail 15: 93-94.

Tiwari, J. K. 2001. Status and distribution of the White-naped Tit Parus nuchalis in Gujarat and Rajasthan. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society 98(1): 26-30.

Trivedi, P. 2009. Observations on the globally threatened Pied Tit Parus nuchalis. Indian Birds 5(1): 7-10.

Further web sources of information
Detailed species accounts from the Threatened birds of Asia: the BirdLife International Red Data Book (BirdLife International 2001).

Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

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

Praveen, J., Subramanya, S. & Trivedi, P.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Parus nuchalis. Downloaded from on 26/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 26/10/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - White-naped tit (Parus nuchalis) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Vulnerable
Family Paridae (Tits and chickadees)
Species name author Jerdon, 1845
Population size 2500-9999 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 62,700 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species