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Hooded Pitta - BirdForum Opus

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ssp cucullata
Photo by sAwnOirOychAng
Kaeng Krachan National Park, Thailand

Alternative names: Green-breasted Pitta (but this is more often used for Green-breasted Pitta from Africa); Black-headed Pitta (but this is more often used for Black-crowned Pitta)

Pitta sordida


16 - 19cm, a rather small pitta, very variable.

ssp sordida
Photo by Nolan.Hwang
Chiku, Taiwan, May 2010


  • Mainly green plumage
  • Black head, some subspecies with chestnut crown (eg abbotti and cucullata)
  • Red vent
  • Most subspecies with red lower belly (black in forsteni, with blue boarder in rosenbergii and mefoorana)
  • Bluish shoulder patch
  • Variable amount of white in wing (no white in rosenbergii, mefoorana and novaguineae)


  • Slightly duller and more olive-green than male
  • Less white in wing

Juveniles have a scaly dark brown crown, dull brown upperparts with large white spots on wing-coverts, whitish lower thraot with blackish chin and pinkish belly and vent.


Northern India east to Nepal, Bhutan, northeast India to China and south to Burma, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Indonesia, the Philippines and to New Guinea. Recorded as vagrant in Taiwan.
Widely distributed and the commonest Pitta in most of its range.


May form a superspecies with Superb Pitta and Ivory-breasted Pitta, sometimes including Azure-breasted Pitta. More than one species may be involved, e.g. "Minahasa Hooded Pitta" (P. forsteni: from subspecies forsteni).


There are 12 subspecies [1], some of which may be elevated to species status:

  • P. s. cucullata from the Himalayan foothills in northern India to south China and Indochina
  • P. s. abboti on Nicobar Islands (India)
  • P. s. mulleri (or muelleri) from extreme south Thailand to the Malay Peninsula, on Sumatra, Borneo and Java and the western Sulu Islands
  • P. s. bangkana on Bangka and Belitung islands (off Sumatra)
  • P. s. sordida on the Philippine Islands (except Palawan group)
  • P. s. palawensis on the western Philippines (Palawan, Culion, Balabac, Calauit and Busuanga)
  • P. s. sanghirana on Sangihe Island (northeast of Sulawesi)
  • P. s. forsteni: "Minahasa Hooded Pitta". northern Sulawesi (Minahasa Peninsula)
  • P. s. novaeguineae on western Papuan islands, New Guinea and Karkar Island
  • P. s. mefoorana on Numfor Island (off northwest New Guinea)
  • P. s. rosenbergii on Biak Island (off northwest New Guinea)
  • P. s. goodfellowi on Aru Islands (off southern New Guinea)


Wide range of habitat, forest, mangroves and scrub.
Up to 2000m in India, to 500m (locally up to 1200m) in New Guinea.


Feeds on insects, larvae, earthworms and snails. Forages on the forest floor among dead leaves.
Breeding season divers through range, April to August in India, May to October in southeast Asia, February to June in Sulawesi and December to June in New Guinea. The nest is a flattened dome made of twigs, dead leaves, plant fibres, rootlets and moss. Lays 2 - 5 eggs.
In most of its range sedentary, cucullata mostly migratory.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, T. A. Fredericks, J. A. Gerbracht, D. Lepage, S. M. Billerman, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2022. The eBird/Clements checklist of Birds of the World: v2022. Downloaded from https://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Gill, F, D Donsker, and P Rasmussen (Eds). 2023. IOC World Bird List (v 13.1)_red. Doi 10.14344/IOC.ML.13.1. http://www.worldbirdnames.org/
  3. Dickinson, EC, ed. 2003. The Howard and Moore Complete Checklist of the Birds of the World. 3rd ed., with updates to October 2008 (Corrigenda 8). Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press. ISBN 978-0691117010
  4. Del Hoyo, J, A Elliot, and D Christie, eds. 2003. Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 8: Broadbills to Tapaculos. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. ISBN 978-8487334504

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