Bird Families

Eastern Tit / Parus minor

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Until recently, the eastern tit (Parus minor) inhabiting Japan and the Far East was considered a subspecies of the great tit (Parus major). However, studies have shown that the two species live in a common range without mixing or frequent hybridization.

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Birds of Crimea

  • Tags
  • Birds starting with the letter C
Latin name:Parus
English name:Tomtit
Kingdom:Animals
A type:Chordates
Class:Birds
Squad:Passerine
Family:Titmouse
Genus:Titmouse
Body length:15-20 cm
Wing length:6-8 cm
Wingspan:26 cm
Weight:14-20 g
  • 1 Description of the bird
  • 2 What eats
  • 3 Where it dwells
  • 4 Migratory or wintering
  • 5 Types
    • 5.1 Great tit or highway
    • 5.2 Gray tit
    • 5.3 Eastern tit
    • 5.4 Greenback Tit
  • 6 Male and female: the main differences
  • 7 Home maintenance
    • 7.1 Cage requirements
    • 7.2 What to feed
  • 8 Do they breed in captivity?
  • 9 Interesting facts
  • 10 Singing

Description of the bird

A small and lively songbird - tit, which can be easily recognized by its bright lemon-yellow belly with a longitudinal black stripe, black head plumage with white cheeks and bluish-gray back and wings. These birds have a small, neat beak, flattened on the sides and very tenacious claws on their legs.

As for size, on average, tits are slightly larger than sparrows, and differ from them in a longer tail. Their body length reaches 15-20 cm, their weight ranges from 14 to 20 g, and their wingspan is up to 26 cm.

These songbirds belong to the order Passeriformes, the titmouse family and the titmouse genus. At different times, scientists attributed various birds to tits, for example, blue tit. However, now this genus includes 4 main species (great tit, gray, eastern, green-backed) and their subspecies.

What eats

In nutrition, titmouses are unpretentious, which is a plus for keeping them at home. But their diet is seasonal.

In the summer, during the nesting and breeding period, tits feed mainly on animal feed: small insects, their larvae (beetles, flies, midges, mosquitoes, bedbugs, spiders, aphids). At the same time, birds eat many forest pests, picking them out from under the bark of trees, for which they are often called forest orderlies. Parents feed their chicks with butterfly caterpillars.

But in the autumn-winter period, titmouses willingly eat grain plant feed and various plant seeds (spruce, pine, birch, linden, mountain ash, elderberry). That is why in the cities, tits become frequent visitors to feeders. By the way, in cold winters, birds need complementary foods, since most of the population dies from hunger.

Where dwells

The most common species - the great tit - can be found everywhere throughout Eurasia and even in northwest Africa. Other species live in smaller areas - in some countries of Asia.

Tits like to settle on the edges of deciduous forests or near clearings and other open places. In addition, birds are not at all afraid of people and willingly live in gardens and city parks.

Migratory or wintering

Tit - resident bird... But, as a rule, during the winter cold weather, they try to find more favorable conditions for themselves. They often move to live closer to people.

Great tit or highway

This species is the largest tit with a long tail. She has a classic bright plumage: a yellow tummy with a black "tie", a hat of blue-black feathers, white cheeks and a white spot on the back of the head. There is a black stripe around the neck of the highway. The back is blue-gray or greenish. The plumage of the wings and tail are in blue tones. Females are slightly paler than males. Young birds are distinguished by olive-brown plumage of the head.

Gray tit

The gray tit differs from the great tit in a white or grayish belly. On the head, birds also have a characteristic black cap with a white spot on the back of the head and cheeks. The plumage of the wings is dominated by a smoky brown color. The gray tit lives in Asia.

Greenback tit

The species lives in countries such as Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Thailand, Vietnam. It features a bright marsh green plumage on the back and a dull belly.

Male and female: the main differences

Sexual dimorphism in tits is weak. Females, as a rule, are slightly lighter than males, but in general their color is the same. An interesting feature: the longitudinal black stripe on the belly of birds widens towards the tail in males, and, on the contrary, becomes thinner in females. The plumage is also slightly different in young growth; olive-brown colors prevail in its color range.

Home content

There are no problems with keeping titmice at home. For the birds, a spacious cage (45 cm by 30 cm by 40 cm) or an aviary is selected. Together with other species, it is better not to settle them, especially if breeding of birds is supposed.

Cage requirements

The cage should not stand in bright sunlight or drafts.

Titmouses will need two drinking bowls - one for drinking, and the second for bathing. These birds simply adore water procedures. And they quickly get used to the hands of the owner, they can even be hand-fed.

What to feed

As in nature, titmice need mixed feed at home. An excellent basis of the diet can be a mixture of white bread crumbs, carrots and chicken eggs, as well as various grain mixtures. A real treat for titmice is mealworms. They should be added to food especially often during the nesting period.

By the way, if you let the titmouse out of the cage, she will definitely try to find food for herself - be it a gingerbread or cookies.

Do they breed in captivity?

If a pair of titmouses get along in the same enclosure, then over time the birds can start nesting, for which they need to leave building material - twigs, blades of grass, moss. In one clutch in nature, a female titmouse can have up to 15 eggs. In captivity, usually less. The female incubates eggs for 13 days, and then about 3 weeks the chicks grow up. All this time, the male takes care of his wife and offspring.

Interesting Facts

  • There are two versions about the origin of the name of the genus "tits". The first indicates the blue color, which is inherent in azure tit, blue songbirds, previously also belonged to the titmouse genus. And the second variant ascribes the name of the genus to the character of the song of these birds, in which one can hear the drawn-out "sii-sii".
  • Titmouses never make their own stocks for the winter, but they very easily find and eat food stocks made by other birds,
  • Usually welcoming and friendly tits during the nesting and incubation period become quite aggressive and drive strangers from their territory,
  • It is not for nothing that tits are called the orderlies of the forest, as one pair of tits during the nesting period protects at least 40 trees from pests.
  • In nature, tits live for 1-3 years, and in captivity they can even live up to 15 years.

Singing

Experts distinguish more than 40 different sound combinations in the pleasant chirping of blue tits. Males especially love to sing and chirp almost all year round, calming down a little only in winter.

Their song consists of loud chi-chi-chi-pi, in-chi-in-chi, pin-pin-chrrzh, zin-zi-ver, zin-zin, and generally very varied with endless overflows and a wide variety of intonations.

Tits: description

The word "tit" is directly related to "blue", as it represents the color of the blue tit bird, which was previously mistakenly classified as a tit. It is characteristic that earlier many species of birds were counted among the representatives of the "titmouse" family, but in our time they were ranked among other species.

Appearance

Such subspecies of tits, as long-tailed and thick-billed, should also be attributed to this family. Scientists know that in nature there are more than a hundred species of birds, which are considered to be of the titmouse genus. At the same time, it is customary to consider the birds that are really included in the list of this family as real titmice. The gray tit differs from other representatives of this genus in that a black stripe runs along its abdomen, and the crest is absent. At the same time, her back is gray, black "cap", there are white spots on her cheeks, and her chest is light. The abdomen is also white, and there is a black stripe in the center.

Interesting to know! The tail feathers are slightly blackish, and the upper tail has an ash tint.

The undertail is characterized as black in the center and white in the sides. The great tit is considered a fairly mobile and energetic bird. Its body length is about 15 cm on average, and its average weight is 20 grams. The wingspan of a titmouse reaches a value of about 25 cm on average. This bird has a black head and neck, the upper part is characterized by an olive tint, and the lower part is yellow. The titmouse's cheeks are pure white, which is clearly striking. The color of the plumage can vary greatly, depending on the subspecies of this genus.

Behavior and lifestyle

The titmouse is a rather lively and curious creature that cannot sit in one place for a second. It is in constant motion, although it is considered a very unpretentious bird in relation to its habitat. The titmouse has practically no rivals who could demonstrate the same dexterity and curiosity. The tit has strong and rather tenacious legs, so it demonstrates miracles of mobility, so it is quite interesting to watch it.

This bird also demonstrates unique abilities in terms of survival, especially in extreme conditions, even if it is far from its nest. She clings to the branch with her claws and instantly falls asleep, turning into a fluffy ball. This feature of her behavior helps the titmouse to survive in the conditions of even the most severe winter cold.

Almost all titmouse species are mostly sedentary, although some species are prone to periodic migrations.

And yet, regardless of the type of tits, they are united only by their inherent unique features associated with a beautiful, memorable plumage color, incredibly lively behavior, as well as their athletic form and unique singing, by which it is easy to distinguish a tit from any other bird.

Tit sheds no more than once a year.

Interesting fact! As a rule, gray tits can be seen in pairs, but sometimes they gather in small flocks, if we consider each species group separately. This is due to the fact that there is a lack of food supply, so the process of finding food is more productive if the birds are looking for food together.

By nature, all types of tits are considered the category of birds that can be safely called green space attendants. Titmouses destroy a huge number of harmful insects, saving green spaces from death. One family of tits, in order to feed their offspring, cleans up to 40 trees from pests. Titmouses communicate with each other with sounds that are easy to distinguish from the sounds of other species of birds.

How many tits live

In the natural environment, titmouses do not live long, only about 3 years, but when kept in artificial conditions, they live up to 15 years. But this is only if all the subtleties of their content are observed, along with the correct organization of nutrition.

Sexual dimorphism

If a person is not an expert, then he is hardly able to distinguish between a female tit and a male, since they are practically the same in appearance. But if you place them side by side and take a closer look, you will notice that the females have a narrower and dimmer strip located along the abdomen. The same can be said about the rest of the body, therefore the black head and black neck in the male differs in that in the female these colors are more in the area of ​​black and gray shades. In this case, the color of the neck may not be solid, as well as the color of the strip.

Tit species

In the database of the International Union of Ornithologists, 4 species of the great gray tit are noted. These include:

  • The gray tit refers to a species that consists of several subspecies, which until recently represented the species of the great tit.
  • Great tit (Bolshak) belongs to the largest and most widespread species.
  • The Japanese titmouse (Eastern) also includes several subspecies, which differ in that they do not have frequent mixing of subspecies.
  • Green-backed tit.

More recently, the Eastern (Japanese) tit was considered one of the subspecies of the great tit, but through the efforts of some scientists, it was possible to prove that these are two separate, independent species.

Natural habitats

It is known that the gray tit is represented by 13 subspecies, such as:

  • P.c. ambiguus, a subspecies native to the Malacca Peninsula and Sumatra.
  • P.c. caschmirensis, characterized by the presence of a gray spot on the back of the head. The habitat of this subspecies is represented by the northeast of Afghanistan, the north of Pakistan and the northwest of India.
  • P.c. cinereus Vieillot is a subspecies common on the island of Java, as well as in the Lesser Sunda Islands.
  • P.c. decolorans Koelz is found in the northwestern part of Afghanistan, as well as in the northwestern part of Pakistan.
  • P.c. hainanus E.J.O. Hartert is a subspecies native to Hainan Island.
  • P.c. intermedius Zarudny is a subspecies representing the territories of northeastern Iran and northwestern Turkmenistan.
  • P.c. mahrattarum E.J.O. Hartert is a subspecies distributed in the territories of the northwestern part of India, as well as the island of Sri Lanka.
  • P.c. planorum E.J.O. Hartert is distributed in the north of India, in Nepal, in Bhutan, in Bangladesh, in the central and western parts of Myanmar.
  • P.c. sarawacensis Slater is a subspecies found on the island of Kalimantan.
  • P.c. stupae Koelz is found in western, central and northeastern India.
  • c. templorum Meyer de Schauensee. The central and western parts of Thailand, as well as the south of Indochina are represented by this subspecies.
  • P.c. vauriei Ripley is a subspecies that is found in northeastern India.
  • P.c. ziaratensis Whistler - This subspecies can be found in the south and center of Afghanistan, as well as in the west of Pakistan.

The great tit is distributed almost throughout the Middle East, as well as in Europe, North and Central Asia, including in some areas of North Africa.

The great tit is represented by 15 subspecies, which differ in a wider habitat. For instance:

  • P.m. raphrodite is a subspecies that lives in the south of Italy, in the south of Greece, on the islands located in the Aegean Sea and in Cyprus.
  • P.m. blanfordi is found in the northern territories of Iraq, in the north of Afghanistan, in the south of the central regions of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.
  • P.m. bokharensis - this subspecies is found in the territory of Turkmenistan, in the north of Afghanistan, as well as in the north of the central territories of Iran.
  • P.m. corsus. A subspecies that inhabits the territory of Portugal, southern Spain and Corsica.
  • P.m. ecki. Found in Sardinia.
  • P.m. excesus - lives in northwestern Africa, western Morocco and northwestern Tunisia.
  • P.m. ferghanensis is found in Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and western China.
  • P.m. kapustini is distributed in the south-east of Kazakhstan (Dzhungarskoe Alatau), in the north-west of China and Mongolia, in Transbaikalia, in Primorye, including the north, up to the shores of the Sea of ​​Okhotsk.
  • P.m. karelini is a subspecies found in southeastern Azerbaijan and northwestern Iran.
  • P.m. major - is a typical representative of the European continent, Spain, the Balkans, northern Italy, Siberia, Asia Minor, the Caucasus, Azerbaijan.
  • P.m. mallorcae is common in the Bamar Islands.
  • P.m.newtoni is a subspecies whose habitat is confined to the British Isles, the Netherlands, Belgium, as well as the northwestern regions of France.
  • P.m. niethammeri is found in the wild on Crete.
  • P.m. terraesanctae, a species that lives in the territories of Lebanon, Syria, Israel, Jordan, as well as the northeastern territories of Egypt.
  • P.m. turkestanicus subspecies found in the southeastern part of Kazakhstan, as well as in the southwestern part of Mongolia.

Representatives of various species and subspecies for their life choose areas in nature, located within forests, in open areas and on the edges, as well as next to natural reservoirs.

There are 9 subspecies of the Eastern (Japanese) tit. For instance:

  • P.m. amamiensis is a subspecies native to the northern Ryukyu Islands.
  • P.m. commixtus. The habitat of this subspecies is the south of China and the north of Vietnam.
  • P.m. dageletensis. A subspecies that is found on the Ulleungdo Islands, which is close to Korea.
  • P.m. kagoshimae. A subspecies inhabiting the southern part of Kyushu Island and the Goto Islands.
  • P.m. minor. It is found in the east of Siberia, in the south of Sakhalin, as well as in the northeast of China, Korea and Japan.
  • P.m. nigriloris. The subspecies lives in the south of the Ryukyu Islands.
  • m. nubicolus is a subspecies inhabiting eastern Myanmar, northern Thailand and northwestern Indochina.
  • m. okinawae - found in the center of the Ryukyu Islands.
  • P.m. tibetanus. The subspecies is found in the southern part of Tibet, in the southwest of China and in the north of Myanmar.

The habitat of the greenback tit includes the territory of Bangladesh and Bhutan, the territory of China and India, Nepal, Pakistan, Thailand and Vietnam. This species of tit is found in boreal forests and woodlands of temperate latitudes, subtropics and tropical rainforests.

Diet

When these birds actively reproduce, they eat small invertebrates, including their larvae. These birds, which are considered real orderlies of the forest, eat a lot of harmful insects. Despite this, the basis of the tit diet includes:

  • Caterpillars of butterflies.
  • Spiders.
  • Centipedes and other beetles.
  • Diptera, including flies, mosquitoes, and midges.
  • Hemiptera living creatures, including bugs.

In addition, their diet includes cockroaches, grasshoppers and crickets, as well as small dragonflies, retinoptera, earwigs, ants, ticks, millipedes, etc. A tit can also be eaten by a bee after the stinger has been removed. After wintering, tits hunt dwarf bats, which, with the arrival of spring, are not particularly mobile and become available to these orderlies of nature. Tits feed their chicks mainly with butterfly caterpillars, the size of which does not exceed 1 cm.

With the arrival of autumn, and then winter, the basis of the titmouse's diet is vegetable feed, in the form of hazel and Jewish beech seeds. Tits often migrate in search of food, visiting fields where grains of various crops such as corn, rye, oats, wheat and others are left behind.

In addition to the above food items of plant origin, depending on habitat conditions, tits feed on the fruits and seeds of the following plants:

  • Ate and pine trees.
  • Maple and linden.
  • Lilacs.
  • Birch trees.
  • Horse sorrel.
  • Pikulnikov.
  • Lopukhov.
  • Red elderberry.
  • Irgi.
  • Rowan.
  • Blueberries.
  • Hemp and sunflower.

The great tit, unlike some other representatives of this kind, such as the lazarevka and muscovy, does not store for the winter. The titmouse is such an agile bird that it easily finds food reserves collected by other birds. Some experts claim that the great tit is capable of eating all kinds of carrion.

Often, titmouses fly into the urban area and visit parks and other places where bird feeders are installed. Here they find seeds, bread crumbs and other food debris, butter and unsalted pieces of bacon. They get food for themselves wherever possible, including in the crowns of trees, as well as in the fallen leaves of trees and shrubs.

Interesting information! The great tit differs in that it has a fairly extensive list of food items. She is capable of killing other birds, smaller in size, after which she pecks out their brains.

The great tit has a fairly strong and powerful beak, with which the bird breaks nuts and other hard-surfaced fruits before eating the tasty entrails. Great tits are also characterized as predators, since it is known that they feed on the remains of various mammals.

Reproduction and offspring

Great tits (Bolshaki) in our country have quite numerous populations. These are monogamous birds that form pairs, after which they begin to form a nest. The female and the male raise their offspring together. To nest their nests, they choose woodland, where deciduous trees prevail, growing in the coastal zone, in gardens and parks. Coniferous areas are not suitable for nesting of these birds. A tit nest can be located anywhere, including in the niches of old buildings or in the hollows of old trees. Often, tits occupy old nests abandoned by other birds at heights of 2 to 6 meters. Tits can easily settle in buildings equipped for nests, which were built by a man.

To build a nest for themselves, the birds collect and bring small blades of grass or twigs, roots of various plants, including moss. The inside of the nest becomes softer and warmer, so the birds cover it with wool, cobwebs, cotton wool, down and feathers, and a small depression is made in the center of the nest, which is covered with horsehair or wool. Depending on the habitat, the size of the nest can be different, but differ only slightly. Therefore, the average dimensions of the inner part are between 40 and 50 mm. In this case, the external dimensions range from 40 to 60 mm.

The titmouse lays up to 15 white eggs. On the entire surface of the shell, spots and dots of a reddish-brown hue are scattered in a chaotic manner. Great tits reproduce up to 2 times a year. The first offspring appear around the end of April, and the second around the middle of summer.

The female incubates eggs for about 2 weeks maximum, and the male feeds the future "mother" all this time. After the birth of the chicks, the female heats them for the first two days with the heat of her body, since the body of the chicks is barely covered with a grayish fluff.

During this period, the male has to feed not only the female, but also the chicks. After the appearance of something like feathers on the body of the chicks, the female leaves the nest, and they begin to feed the future offspring together. During the growth period, the chicks eat a lot, so their parents barely have time to catch insects, bugs, caterpillars, etc. for them.

Interesting fact! During the mating season, tits are highly aggressive towards each other.

After about a couple of weeks, the chicks are completely covered with feathers and are already ready for self-feeding. For about a week, the chicks still remain near their nest, and their parents continue to feed them. Fully mature young animals will become closer to the first year of their life.

Natural enemies of the titmouse

Tits belong to the category of fairly useful birds that protect both forests and cultural plantings from an overabundance of harmful insects. There are several natural factors that negatively affect the population of these beneficial birds. Firstly, a large number of individuals die in the winter from a lack of food resources. Secondly, there are a number of predators that hunt birds, including tits.

Population and status of the species

To date, no problems have been noted that would relate to the number of various subspecies of these birds, since the populations are quite numerous.In this regard, these birds do not require any protective or protective measures, with the exception of rather rare subspecies that are on the verge of extinction.

For example, the Whiskered Tit (Panurus biarmicus) is a rather rare and poorly studied subspecies, which is listed in the Red Book along with other birds, such as the Yew (Japanese) tit. Representatives of this subspecies are found exclusively on the territory of the Southern Kuriles, which is due to the limited habitat of this subspecies.

Finally

Tits are not only useful creatures, but also quite interesting. There are a lot of varieties, including subspecies. Among them there are even those who prepare food for themselves for the winter. Moreover, they hide food all year round, even when they are feeding their offspring. How they then find their supplies, crammed into thousands of different places, is simply incomprehensible to the mind. Tits find invertebrates that hide under the bark of trees, in any position, even hanging head down. How useful tits are, can be judged by this information: during one day, these birds eat more than a thousand insects or up to fifteen thousand silkworm eggs. In other words, they eat as much living creatures as they weigh themselves, or even more.

Naturally, in the summer period, there are no problems with food for the titmice, since the diet is very diverse and they prefer animal food, which is simply abundant in the summer. With the onset of cold weather, their diet is noticeably depleted and they have to switch to plant foods, in the form of seeds of various plants. During this period, titmouses approach human habitation. And here it is very important to organize feeding of these very useful birds. To do this, you can build fairly primitive feeders and pour sunflower seeds or bread crumbs into them. Tits also love lard, but they should not be given salted lard.

Everyone remembers from childhood how he watched from the window of his dwelling in winter how titmouses skillfully deal with sunflower seeds. They grab the seeds with their beak and quickly fly to the tree, where they clamp the seeds with their paws and break the shell with their beak, reaching the insides, to the core. For children, this is a unique sight. It is very important that parents teach their children to love nature. To do this, not so much needs to be done - to make a feeder and place it in a conspicuous place. Titmouses will definitely arrive and will feed regularly, especially in winter.

Even in ancient times, the titmouse was noted as a bird that possesses the magical power of its singing, since it is capable of producing up to 40 variations of various sounds. Due to such a variety of sounds, many believed that her sounds were prophetic, as they let know of impending trouble or joy. In addition, according to the peculiarities of the sounds of this bird, the weather was predicted: if the titmouse whistled, then sunny warm weather was predicted, if it made sounds similar to chirping, then to severe frost.

And yet it is believed that the singing of the titmouse is quite pleasant, so it is quite natural that they were assigned to the suborder of "songbirds".

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