Long-tailed tit

The long-tailed titmouse (lat. Aegithalos caudatus) has many other names – a pole ladle, a pheasant, a peacock, a tail, a vine, a chimichka. In the 19th century, the bird was very popular among birders and was considered the most beautiful among small birds. It is smaller than a sparrow, and sitting on a tree branch, while pulling its head in, it is very similar to a white ball with a short beak and a very long tail. Because of this feature, it has some resemblance to a scoop, probably this explains its popular name – a ladle.

View origin and description

Photo: Long-tailed Tit

Photo: Long-tailed Tit

Mullets are small shrubby birds, similar to tits, belonging to the family & # 171; They are no larger than 8-15 cm in size, with a wingspan of 15-20 cm and a weight of 6-11 g. The family includes 3 genera with 8 species. Within the range, there are approximately 20 subspecies that differ slightly from each other in color.

Video: Long-tailed Tit

Five species of mules live in the mountains of China and the Himalayas, the former prefer oak and birch forests, as well as juniper thickets, the latter have chosen pine forests. The most common species is Aegithalos caudatus, which can be found in a very large area – from the British Isles to Siberia. Another interesting species is the North American bush tit (Psaltriparus minimus), which lives mainly in oak forests (oak forests). The species is interesting because these birds build hanging nests.

As already mentioned, the long-tailed tit is a very small bird with a rounded, ball-like body and a very long tail, which can be up to 10 cm long. The color of the long-tailed tit is dominated by white with rare black and pinkish-brown blotches. At the same time, the head, neck and lower body are white; most of the back, flight and tail feathers are black; the dorsal part is brownish or pinkish; most tail and flank feathers are pink. The bird's beak is very short and thick – only 5-6 mm

Appearance and Features

Photo: Long-tailed tit bird

Photo: Long-tailed tit bird

Sexual dimorphism in long-tailed tits is not very pronounced – females and males look almost the same, except that males may be slightly smaller in size. The plumage of the poles also does not differ in bright colors, but it is fluffy and loose. Because of this, a bird from afar can be mistaken for a fluffy ball with a long tail or the same ladle.

Adult tits have black and white wings on the outside, and pinkish — from the inside, and the head, chest, abdomen are white. The little chicks of the mullers look rather nondescript – a short tail and a complete absence of bright pink colors. Chicks look like adult birds about a month after birth.

At the beginning of summer, adult tits begin a rather long molt, during which all their plumage changes completely. This process continues until August. In young animals, molting begins somewhat later — in the middle of summer. After molting, young mules acquire the exact appearance of their older relatives.

Most of the time during the year, long-tailed tits spend in flocks that continuously fly from place to place. These flights are accompanied by incessant squeaking and chirping. The flight of birds is very uneven and fluttering, their fussiness and mobility immediately betrays their belonging to the tit family.

Where does the long-tailed tit live?

Photo: Long-tailed Tit in Russia

Photo: Long-tailed Tit in Russia

The Long-tailed Tit usually lives in forest plantations, deciduous or mixed forests, parks, forest belts, gardens, dense shrubbery. Moreover, it prefers the area in the immediate vicinity of water bodies.

The bird is found in many territories of Eurasia:

  • Asia Minor;
  • China;
  • Korea;
  • Japan;
  • Russia (Siberia).

The most popular habitats and nesting sites for long-tailed tits are dense, completely impenetrable thickets of birch or willow in the immediate vicinity of some lake, stream, pond or river.

Nests in mullers are usually ovoid in shape with an entrance in their upper part. The main material for the nests is moss, the auxiliary ones are cobwebs, disheveled insect cocoons, and even some materials of artificial origin (plastic, polyethylene, paper). Thanks to this set of building materials, the nests turn out to be very warm and durable, they are not at all afraid of strong winds, or heavy rain, or even a storm.

After the construction is completed, the birds cover their nests with small fragments of tree bark in order to disguise themselves from prying eyes , lichen, and also make a soft litter of fluff and feathers inside.

An interesting fact: Inside one nest, there can be about 2 thousand fluffs and small feathers as litter.

What does the Great Tit eat?

Photo: Long-tailed tit

Photo: Long-tailed tit , or ladle

The mullet, like most small birds, prefers to eat food of animal origin, although when there is a lack of food, it does not disdain vegetable food, since survival depends on it.

The classic diet of long-tailed tits looks something like this:

  • caterpillars;
  • psyllids;
  • aphids;
  • small beetles and their larvae;
  • worms;
  • ants and their eggs;
  • seeds and fruits of plants.

Birds seek out insects, very skillfully crawling along the branches of trees and shrubs, like ordinary tits, and at the same time taking the most unexpected, almost acrobatic poses. In the off-season (spring, autumn), as well as in winter, poles eat plant seeds with pleasure.

Birds need the most food during the period of feeding chicks. Ornithologists have calculated that, on average, long-tailed tits feed their chicks about 350 times a day. During this period, birds eat just an unrealistic amount of insects, including a variety of garden and garden pests.

Thus, it turns out that, by their existence, the poles bring considerable benefits to agriculture, as well as summer residents and gardeners, destroying various fruit flies, codling caterpillars and even weevils, which are the main threat to sugar beet crops.

Character and lifestyle features

Photo: Long-tailed Tit

Photo: Long-tailed Tit

The winter months, when cold and hungry, are considered the most difficult for chops. Indeed, during severe frosts, almost a third of the population and even more can die. If during the day tits fly in large flocks, basking in this way and looking for food wherever possible, then at night they sleep on branches, tightly clinging to each other.

Interesting fact: It has been observed that in winter long-tailed tits often join flocks of common tits and thus survive.

Ornithologists have repeatedly observed and described the moments when fledglings leave the nest. And the slightest concern can serve as a reason for this. If one of the young chicks tries to fly out of the nest, then the rest immediately follow. Babies fly very badly, clumsily, and at this time their parents fly around, trying to protect them from danger and gather them together. The hubbub and panic continue for about half an hour, and then everything gets better and the chicks begin their new adult life.

Interesting fact: Ladles are the champions among birds in the number of eggs in one clutch.

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Now you know that the long-tailed tit is also called the ladle tit. Let's find out how little birds survive in the wild.

Social Structure and Reproduction

Photo: Pair of Long-tailed Tits

Photo: Pair of Long-tailed Tits

They prefer to arrange their nests on trees or shrubs in the forks of thick branches at a height of at least 3 meters from the ground, sometimes a little higher. The nest is a closed structure similar to an egg with very thick and strong walls. The size of the nest is about 10 by 20 cm.

The walls of their nests are made of moss, cobwebs, birch bark, lichens, and they are carefully masked in such a way that they are completely indistinguishable from the environment. The entrance to the nest, depending on its location, is done from above or from the side. I thickly line the inside of the bird's nest with soft fluff and feathers.

In a clutch of mullers, there are usually about 6-18 white eggs with small red or brown specks. Only the female sits on the eggs, and the male at this time feeds her, protects her and takes care of her in every possible way. Egg incubation time — 14-18 days. Chicks are born naked, yellow-mouthed and completely defenseless. Both parents are involved in feeding the chicks, and sometimes they are helped by the chicks of last year's brood, which for some reason did not find a mate — «helpers».

At the age of 18 days, most chicks leave the nest, but the parents continue to feed them for some time. It is curious that the families of the mullers: parents, «helpers», young growth may not disintegrate until the very spring.

Natural enemies of the long-tailed tit

Photo: Poultry bird

Photo: Poultry ladle

Long-tailed tits, like their larger relatives, are very useful birds for both forestry and agriculture, since their main food is small insects and their larvae, most of which are malicious pests that cause significant damage to the harvest of field, horticultural and forest crops.

One of the main natural factors that annually negatively affect the number of tits is winter hunger and severe frosts. It is from the cold and lack of food in the winter months that just a huge number of these birds die every year – about a third of the population, and in some years even more. However, do not be upset about this – things are not so bad. After all, every summer, with the onset of the breeding season, the damage brought to the population of tits in winter is negated, since the ladles are incredibly prolific and each pair of birds can breed up to 18 chicks.

An interesting fact: Long-tailed tits are very zealous in trying to mask their nests, and for this they use not only natural materials: bark, moss, lichen, but also artificial ones, such as pieces of polyethylene and even plastic.

Also, under natural conditions, martens, weasels, wild cats, other felines, flying predators (owls, hawks, falcons), and in places close to human habitation – domestic cats, stray dogs. However, this factor is not so decisive.

Population and species status

Photo: Long-tailed Tit

Photo: Long-tailed Tit

The population of long-tailed tits is usually divided by ornithologists into two groups: migratory and sedentary. Accordingly, sedentary species of polovnikov live in the middle lane and to the south, and migratory — in the northernmost regions. Thus, with the onset of winter, migratory long-tailed tits annually make flights to the south in search of places where it is warmer and more food.

The long-tailed tit is very common throughout the forest zone of the Eurasian continent from the Pacific to the Atlantic. In the European part of Russia, the bird can be found almost everywhere where there is woody vegetation, with the exception of one isolated region – the Caucasus.

Long-tailed tits in natural conditions do not live very long – up to 3 years, however, when kept in captivity, these birds can live several times longer – up to 15 years. Moreover, the total life expectancy of such unusual pets is completely dependent on a number of positive factors: nutritional rules, maintenance, care.

Today, the population of mullers, despite the pronounced seasonality (mass death during the winter cold), quite numerous, so this species does not need any protective or protective measures at all.

All types of tits, including long-tailed ones, are among the orderlies of nature. In order to feed themselves and their offspring, adult birds with great activity simply destroy a huge number of harmful insects, bringing this very considerable benefit to green spaces. For example, just one long-tailed tit per season can clear at least 20-30 trees of pests.

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