Thursday, August 14, 2014

Long-tailed Tit (Aegithalos caudatus)

(16 cm.) Small; black bill; tiny body; very long tail with white edges; different races vary in color pattern

The Long-tailed Tit, due to its elongated tail and conical bill is placed in a separate family, “Aegithalidae,” from other tit species such as the Great Tit. The other members of the Long-tailed Tit’s family are all birds which possess long tails.

The Long-tailed Tit is a common bird in Europe and Asia and several races exist that vary in appearance. Individuals from all races are easily recognizable as members of this species, however. In China, this bird is a non-migratory resident species that lives only in the eastern half of the country from Heilongjiang province in the North to around Shanghai in the South.

All tits species, regardless of which family they are placed in, are very active and acrobatic birds which can usually be found amid the boughs of trees foraging for insects and seeds. Tits are generally non-migratory birds due to their omnivorous diets and their ability to switch to vegetarian mode in winter, if needed. As a result, tits, and their North American cousins, the chickadees, are birds which are often found at far northern latitudes in wintertime. Birders are grateful that these cheerful and usually quite tame little creatures are present during the cold winter months.

Unlike most tits, the Long-tailed Tit is primarily an insect eater throughout the year and will only resort to taking other foods should insects be unavailable.

This Long-tailed Tit favors deciduous or mixed woodlands as its habitat. In winter, it prefers deciduous forests that can still yield insects.

Due to the small size of its body, this bird is susceptible to extreme cold in wintertime. During extremely cold spells, the majority of the Long-tailed Tit population in a particular location may perish. However, the remaining birds are able to breed prodigiously in the following months to replace the loss.



Long-tailed Tit (Photo by Nigel Wedge)

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