Blue tit

Common blue tit, so called a small titmouse, painted in sky blue and bright yellow. In Linnean's scientific work “Systema Naturae”, this representative of the passeriformes is given the name Cyanistes caeruleus.

Origin of the species and description

Photo: Blue tit bird

Photo: Blue Tit

The blue tit, as this forest bird is also called, was described by the Swiss biologist Conrad Gesner in 1555 as Parus caeruleus, where the first word meant “tit” and the second & # 8212; “dark blue” or “azure”. Modern name — Cyanistes comes from the ancient Greek kuanos, which also means bright blue.

The oldest remains of tits were found in Hungary and belong to the Pliocene. The ancestors of the blue tit separated from the main branch of the tits and represent a subgenus of this family. Nine more representatives, which are classified as subspecies, have similar morphological features, they have slight differences in appearance and character, as well as different habitats. Blue Tit are found in Europe and Asia, where representatives of different subspecies can be found in relatively small areas.

Video: Common Tit

A close relative of the blue tit is the African blue tit Cyanistes teneriffae. She lives in the Canary Islands and the northern part of the African coast. Some experts classify these representatives as a separate species, since they have features in genetics, in the nature of life and singing. Also, this species of tits does not respond to the calls of its fellow Cyanistes caeruleus. Subspecies ultramarinus can be considered transitional between the main Eurasian and Canarian.

Lazorevka lives everywhere from the subarctic to the subtropical zone of Europe and Western Asia. Closer to the eastern part of the range, where another white tit is also found, hybrids called blue tit or Pleske tit may appear.

Appearance and features

Photo: Common Tit, or Blue Tit

Photo: Common Tit, or Blue Tit

This type of tit is smaller than many other members of the family, although the blue tit is not the smallest, like the Muscovy. The body size is 12 cm in length, the wingspan is 18 cm, and the weight is about 11 g. The birds have a small but sharp black beak and a short tail. The legs are grey-blue and the color of the eyes is dark brown.

The top of the head is bright blue, the forehead and nape are white. Below the head is ringed by a blue-black stripe, which begins at the beak and passes through the line of the eye. At the back of the head, this line widens and descends to the base of the neck. A strip of the same color descends vertically from the beak, which then passes along the line of the throat, connecting with the back of the head, edging the white cheeks.

The back of the head, tail and wings are bluish-blue, and the back has a greenish-yellow coloration, which may differ in different individuals, depending on the subspecies and habitat. The abdomen has a rich yellow color with a central dark line. The diet of blue tit is responsible for the yellow color of plumage. If there are many yellow-green caterpillars with carotene pigment on the menu, then the yellow color is more saturated.

The tops of the wing coverts are painted white, which creates a transverse stripe on a blue background. The color of the females is slightly paler, but the difference is almost not noticeable. Young tit has a more yellow color, without a blue “cap”, and the blue color has a gray tint.

Where does the blue tit live?

Photo: Blue Tit in Russia

Photo: Blue Tit in Russia

The bright blue bird has settled throughout Europe, with the exception of those northern regions where there is no forest. In the south, the distribution area captures the north-west of Africa, the Canary Islands, in Asia it reaches the northern regions of Syria, Iraq, Iran.

These brightly colored birds prefer broad-leaved forests, where they feel equally good, both in more often and and on the edges, along the banks of rivers and streams. From tree species, he prefers oak and birch groves, thickets of willow, you can also find them in mixed forests.

In arid regions, they prefer to populate floodplains of rivers and lake shores. Lazorevka has adapted well to urban conditions, easily inhabits parks and forest park areas, squares, gardens, giving preference to those places where there are old hollow trees.

Broad-leaved forests serve as a home for the blue bird in Africa, for the most part, this different types of oak:

  • portuguese;
  • cork;
  • stone.

In Libya and Morocco, it lives in cedar forests and juniper thickets. Island subspecies from the Mediterranean settle in thickets of comb and date palm. Favorite biotopes in Asian countries: oak, pine, cedar forests.

The further south the region, the higher the blue tit is found in the mountains:

  • Alps up to 1.7 thousand m;
  • Pyrenees up to 1.8 thousand m;
  • Caucasus up to 3.5 thousand m;
  • Zagros up to 2 thousand m.

Now you know where the blue tit lives. Let's see what she eats.

What does the blue tit eat?

Photo: Common Tit

Photo: Common Tit

A small bird is of great benefit, destroying the pests of the forest. Insects make up 4/5 of her diet. In each region, a certain set is preferred that parasitizes plants, these are very small insects and their larvae, spiders, mites, aphids.

Interesting fact: Titmouse do not catch insects in the air, but they collect them along the trunk and branches, very rarely descending to the ground.

Depending on the time of year and the life cycle of insects, the composition of the menu may change. So in the spring, while the larvae have not yet appeared, arachnids serve as the main food. In winter, they get from under the bark of insects and their pupae that have hidden for the winter, for example, goldentail butterflies.

In summer, on their menu:

  • flower weevils;
  • gypsy moth caterpillars;
  • leafworm caterpillars;
  • sawflies;
  • chestnut miner moth;
  • tree tiger moth;
  • ants;
  • flies;
  • centipedes;
  • arachnids;
  • Hemiptera;
  • lacewings.

They are very diligent they are in the destruction of aphids. Birds carefully examine branch by branch in search of new prey. They manage to hang upside down at the very ends, pecking at small insects. In the cold season, when there are no insects, blue titmouse switch to plant food, consisting of seeds and fruits.

For the most part, these are seeds:

  • birch;
  • cypress;
  • fir;
  • pine;
  • oak;
  • maple;
  • beech.

Birds collect seeds from grasses sticking out from under the snow, looking for wintering insects in the stems. By the end of the cold season, pollen and anthers from catkins of willow, alder, willow, and aspen begin to take up most of the diet. helps her to stay on the ends of twigs, foliage, and even on hanging catkins of plants. they eat sunflower seeds, cereals, bacon.

Character and Lifestyle Features

Photo: Blue tit bird

Photo: Blue tit bird

Titmouses are extremely dexterous and restless birds, they tirelessly fly branches to branches, busily looking for food. Their flight is also fast, it is wavy in pattern, while the wings work very quickly. Hanging on the branches, pichugs perform acrobatic somersaults, showing good coordination of movements.

Adult individuals, and the blue tit lives an average of 4.5 years, lead a sedentary lifestyle. Young people, exploring the surroundings, are looking for new territories, but the massive resettlement of titmouse into new habitats rarely occurs.

The blue tit has a richer palette of sounds produced than other members of the tit family. This is a repeated repetition of voiced “qi”, the same voiced trill, chirring, chirping when in contact with other birds in a flock.

When nesting, titmouse look for hollows, but sometimes they use other people's empty ones, and sometimes they settle in the most unexpected places : mailboxes, hedge voids or road signs. In some areas, they use burrows and hollows in stumps. These small tits boldly engage in battle with larger species of the family, defending their place of residence.

Inside the hollow, if it is not spacious enough, and the wood is soft, rotten, titmouse can pluck and remove the extra tree. Inside, a round cup-shaped nest is built from bark, grass, wool, feathers, and moss. The construction of the bird's nest begins at the end of March and until the first days of April. This takes approximately two weeks. Throughout the first half of the day, the blue tit collects and brings material and flies up to the hollow with it up to thirty times in an hour.

Her nest reaches a tray thickness of about six centimeters. Dry leaves of grass, horsetail, hair of wild and domestic animals, fluff and feathers of various birds, moss, all this is carefully intertwined and has good thermal insulation. The hole in the hollow of the blue tit is also always carefully cleaned, and the nest itself, by the time the babies grow up, resembles felt.

An interesting fact: Naturalists from the UK have noticed that blue tit peck holes in milk bags and eat milk leftovers. They have been accustomed to this food item ever since it was customary to leave milk at the door of the house.

Social Structure and Reproduction

Photo: Pair of Blue Tit

Photo: Pair of Blue Tit

These small tits love to unite in flocks, which can be seen around the feeders in winter or on the branches of hawthorn, mountain ash, where they are looking for food together. By the last month of winter, these groups break up, males look for and determine the territory. They begin to protect her, showing aggression towards other males of the blue tit.

The mating games of these birds are intricate:

  • fluttering flight;
  • high ups;
  • soar with wings and tail spread;
  • quick dive.

At this time, the males try to appear larger, raise the feathers on the back of the head, forming a crest, fluff up, spread the feathers on the wings and tail, perform a ritual dance on the ground. Having met their partner, the males remain faithful to her, and the formation of a new pair is marked by joint singing.

In April, the couple begins to look for a nest box and build a nest. Such a place is located above two meters, the diameter of the notch should not exceed 30 cm in diameter, otherwise larger birds and predators will crawl into it.

Eggs are laid in May, the clutch can be 6-12 eggs, more — to 13 — 14 pcs. If the clutch is too large, then this may mean that the nest is used by two females. In mixed forests and conifers, there are no more than 7 pieces in the nest, in city parks their number is less.

White eggs with ocher speckles are about 16 mm long and 12 mm wide, weighing an average of 0.9 — 11 g. The female incubates the clutch for 2 weeks, and the partner at this time gets food and brings it to her every half an hour. If the mother decides to go in search of food on her own, she carefully covers the masonry with bedding. When the nest is in danger, the couple bravely tries to protect it, while the birds make hissing or buzzing sounds.

Naked chicks are born gradually, sometimes this time stretches for several days. At this time, they are defenseless and a caring mother covers them with her body, and the father takes care of food. A week later, both parents tirelessly fly out to hunt for insects in order to feed the growing offspring.

In three weeks, the chicks fledge and leave the parental home, this happens in the first half of July. For another 7-10 days, parents continue to feed the chicks. In some regions, birds make two clutches per season, in which case the second wave of offspring becomes independent by the beginning of August.

Natural enemies of blue tit

Photo: Blue Tit in flight

Photo: Blue Tit in flight

For the blue tit, the enemies are, first of all, birds of prey: hawks, owls. Even an ordinary jay or a smaller starling can destroy the blue tit's nest, feast on eggs or defenseless babies.

Small mustelid representatives can get into the tit's hollow, but their habitat does not coincide much with the blue tit. Only small-sized weasels can easily penetrate the hollow and destroy the entire brood. Larger ones: ferrets, martens are not able to fit into the entrance hole, but they can hunt for babies who have just got out of the nest and do not know how to fly well.

Cats lie in wait in city parks, gardens, home gardens. Even rodents, gray and red squirrels can occupy a hollow, having dined on eggs, if the opening of the notch allows it to do so.

Bad weather conditions can also be attributed to the enemies of tits. If in May and July, during the period of feeding the chicks, it is cold rainy weather, then the main food – caterpillars, appears little. It is much more difficult to keep healthy offspring of blue tit in such conditions.

Parasites are found in bird nests. Adult titmouse are heavily infected with them after the chicks have grown up. This prevents the birds from making a second clutch.

Interesting fact: Ornithologists noted that titmouse that laid their eggs for the second time abandoned them because of fleas and other parasites, which by that time were in large numbers. accumulated in the nest.

Population and species status

Photo: Common Tit, aka Blue Tit

Photo: Common Tit, aka Blue Tit

Lazorevka inhabits all European regions with a temperate and Mediterranean climate, it is absent only in Iceland and the Scottish north, as well as in the north of Scandinavia, Finland and Russia. The northern border of the range runs along 67, shifting to the 65th parallel, approaching the eastern outlines of the border in the Urals, descending to 62 ° N. sh. In recent years, this species of titmouse was found in the southern forest zone of Western Siberia. According to approximate estimates, up to 45 million pairs of birds live here.

In Asia, the species Cyanistes caeruleus is found in Iraq, Iran, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Turkey, Lebanon, and Syria. In Africa – in Morocco, Libya, Tunisia. Everywhere there is a tendency to increase the number of these beautiful birds.

These titmouse lead a sedentary lifestyle in the southern regions. In the north, in the cold season, they migrate to warmer places – to the south or west, while in the mountains, with cold weather, the birds descend closer to the valleys. Such movements are associated with the presence or absence of a sufficient food supply. Also, frosty winters contribute to longer distances.

Interesting fact: British Blue Tit rarely fly more than 30 km, and those individuals that are found within the Baltic coast can make long journeys, flying to the southern shores of the Mediterranean, having traveled up to two thousand kilometers. Such seasonal migrations begin at the end of September.

The Red Data Book ranks this bird species of Least Concern, with an increasing trend. Bright blue with a yellow belly, the blue tit is an adornment of forests and gardens. This tireless worker eats more pests in a year than any other birds. To attract them to your gardens and household plots, you can hang feeders and nest boxes with a small hole for a notch.

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