Tap dancing

Perhaps not everyone knows about such a tiny songbird as a tap dance, which has a rather beautiful outfit. It will be very interesting to understand the details of its life, characterize the external features of the bird, consider the habits and disposition, describe the places of permanent deployment and find out why the winged bird got such an original name.

Origin of the species and description

Photo: Tap Dance

Photo: Tap Dance

The tap dance is a songbird belonging to the order of passeriformes and the family of finches. The name of the bird is identical to the name of the dance, the main element of which is beating the rhythm with the help of heels. Of course, the feathered one does not know how to dance, but it produces a sound similar to a tap dance with the help of its vocal apparatus. Such perky tapping can only be heard from males during the bird's wedding season. On ordinary days, the song of the tap dance is more monotonous.

Interesting fact: Translated from Latin, the name of the bird means “fiery thorn”, this is due to the crimson hues present in the color of the plumage and the feathers of an elongated shape in the back area.

Outwardly, tap dancing is similar to linnet, siskin or goldfinch. In terms of size, this bird is very small, it is even smaller than a sparrow. The length of the body of an ordinary tap dance varies from 10 to 14 cm, and its weight is about 12 grams. The main attraction in the bird color of the tap dance is the possession of a red cap, which immediately draws attention to itself. It is worth noting that there are three varieties of tap-dance: ordinary tap-dance, mountain tap-dance (yellow-nosed), ashen (tundra) tap-dance. We will dwell on the appearance of the common tap dance in more detail a little later, and now we will briefly describe two other varieties.

Video: Tap dance

Mountain tap dance (zheltonos) is very similar to linnet. The length of the bird's body is about 14 cm, and the weight ranges from 15 to 20 grams. Spots of red color stand out brightly in the breast area, brown spots are visible on the back, and the rump has a black color. The feathered beak has the shape of a cone, in summer its color is gray, and in winter it is yellow. Zheltonos chose the northern part of Europe and Central Asia. Some populations of birds are sedentary, but most of these birds are migratory, they rush to spend the winter closer to the coasts of the southern seas.

The ash (tundra) tap dance is very similar to its common relative, but has a lighter color, body length varies from 13 to 15 cm, and the bird weighs about 20 grams. The back of this tap dance is gray, the head and abdomen are light, lined with stripes, and the rump area is white. The male has a pink bib. And the red cap is in both the female and the male. The bird inhabits Greenland, the Baltic States, Scandinavia, Iceland, the northern regions of our country. It can be found on the territory of Central Europe, but it is considered rare.

Appearance and features

Photo: What a tap dance looks like

Photo: What a tap dance looks like

Let's consider the characteristic external traits and features on the example of the common tap dance. As already mentioned, the tap dance is a very small bird, similar in size to a siskin, its body length ranges from 12 to 15 cm, and its weight is from 10 to 15 grams. The length of the wing of the common tap dance varies from 7 to 8.5 cm, and the wingspan reaches a length of 19 to 24 cm.

The difference between the sexes in tap dances is expressed in the color of their plumage. In males, the costume is more elegant, bright and extravagant, they just need to look fashionable and catchy in order to attract the attention of a partner. Both sexes have a red spot (cap) in the crown region, but males have pinkish-red patches on the chest and other parts of the body.

The back of the male is painted in a grayish-brown or light gray shade, under the pink breast there is a noticeably white belly. There are also pink tones in the rump area. The plumage on the wings is dressed in a dark brown shade, which is decorated with a white edging. In the coloring of females, brownish and white shades predominate. Where the male has pink-red blotches (except for the head), in the female these places have a whitish plumage. The color of the young is similar to the color of the females.

The small but bright beak of the tap dances is clearly visible, which is colored yellow, has a dark tip, its length is about one centimeter. The sides of the tap dances are lined with dark brown stripes, which also decorates them very much. Little birds arrive in small flocks, in which ringing twitter and fuss always reign. Tap dances have very tenacious paws of a dark (almost black) color, with their help they can be located on branches in various positions, even upside down, if it is more convenient to peck seeds and berries.

Now you know what a tap dance looks like. Let's see where this bird lives.

Where does the tap dance live?

Photo: Tap-dancing bird

Photo: Tap-dancing bird

Tap dances can be called collective birds, they unite in small flocks, with which they move, actively moving and chirping loudly. The tap dancers settled in the northern part of Eurasia, chose Greenland, the wooded areas of the North American continent. In the vastness of our country, birds can be found in the tundra and forest-tundra of the Trans-Baikal and Ussuri Territories, the bird inhabits the Caucasus and the Crimean Peninsula.

Interesting fact: tap dances are nomadic and migratory, this is directly related to the presence of a food base and the climate of the territory where they constantly live. The nomad camp is suspended for a while when it's time to nest and raise chicks.

The tap dances like to equip their nests in the tundra, where there is a lot of shrubbery, mainly consisting of young birches and willows. Birds are not averse to eating birch seeds. Not as common as in the tundra zone, but the tap dance is also found in the taiga, where there are small wet clearings, birds live in coastal river and lake zones, live near wetlands.

Migratory tap dancers from northern places of residence go to spend the winter in the territory of southern Asian and European regions. During severe frosty periods, in search of food, birds often coexist with people, moving to city parks and gardens. sometimes they build their nests near human dwellings.

What does a tap dance eat?

Photo: Tap-dancing bird on a branch

Photo: Tap-dancing bird on a branch

Menu tap dance is very diverse, this miniature bird can be called an omnivore. Her diet includes food, both plant and animal origin.

The tap dance loves to snack on:

  • all kinds of insects (especially aphids);
  • seeds of various trees and shrubs (alder, birch, aspen, spruce);
  • cereals;
  • taiga berries (crowberries, lingonberries);
  • weeds.

How flocks of tap-dances feast can be seen on spruce branches, where they peck out seeds from cones, in sedge thickets, on heather bushes. While extracting seeds, birds perform various acrobatic stunts, they attach themselves to cones and branches, hanging in various positions, even upside down. Mature feathered individuals prefer plant foods; food of animal origin is present in their diet only in the warm season. And newborn chicks are fed by aphids.

Interesting Fact: Although tap dances are tiny, their appetite is huge, it can even be called indefatigable. In this regard, keeping tap dancers in captivity is problematic, because it is not difficult to overfeed them. Birds gain weight quickly and can become obese, which shortens their lifespan dramatically.

For tap dances kept in artificial conditions, a grain mixture is suitable, which is fed to canaries. The consumption of hemp seeds should be reduced so that the birds do not get fat. In general, the little tap dance needs dietary nutrition so that the bird feels great, is in excellent shape and pleases its owner for many years.

Peculiarities of character and lifestyle

Photo: Male tap dance

Photo: Male tap dance

As already mentioned, the tap dancers cluster in flocks, which can be immediately noticed due to the continuous bird chatter and chirping. These birds are very mobile and active, but excessive caution is not their forte. Little birds can fly close to human habitation. Noticing the approach of a biped, the flock flutters, but does not fly far away, but almost immediately returns back to the branches, where there are many attractive goodies (cones, seeds, earrings).

covered with fluffy little pompoms arranged randomly and in completely different positions. The tap dancers arrange their nesting places in the dense undergrowth of not very tall trees, they carefully mask them from various ill-wishers.

Tap dancing can be heard during bird wedding season, birds don't sing very often. The melody includes a number of similar sounds: “che-che-che”, “chiv-chiv-chiv”, “chen-chen”, etc. All these exclamations are cyclical; are constantly repeated, they are diluted with sharp trills.

Interesting fact: The singing talent of tap dancers can be improved if they are crossed with canaries, such feathered offspring have much more melodic and pleasant voices.

If we talk about the nature of tap dances, then those who start them at home assure that the birds are very unpretentious. Tap dancers are rarely adopted as pets, apparently, not everyone likes their song, reminiscent of beating a fraction. If you watch tap dancers in winter, you can see their fighting disposition, cocky character and courage.

Having flown up to the feeder, a flock of tap dances quickly takes control of it, driving away other feathered competitors, which are larger in size (bullfinches and titmouses). Little birds in red caps always act actively, collectively, together, a little impudently and very well-coordinated. Apparently, such zealous pressure and bold tactics are necessary if you have such a small size.

Social structure and reproduction

Photo: Female tap dance

Photo: Female tap dance

The breeding bird season starts in early spring, when there is still snow. Its onset is heralded by the increased activity of birds. Cavaliers make aerial undulating flights in order to attract a person of the opposite sex.

Endless chirping and hubbub is heard from all sides. The tapping songs of males are heard in every way, and their outfit becomes even more juicy, pink-red spots are blazing, calling on the lady of the heart. Everything around is filled with fuss and incredible energy.

Usually (but not always), tap dances acquire offspring once during the summer period, changing the location of their nesting every season. Birds nest in shrubbery, or on the lower branches of trees. The nest resembles a cup made of dry blades of grass, small branches, fluff from plants, feathers, woolen balls.

An interesting fact: The cunning and perky tap dancers have not only a bold, but also a thieving thieving disposition. Birds without a twinge of conscience can steal the feathers and lumps of fluff they like from the nests of other birds. , brown specks are scattered on top of it. At the blunt end of the egg, curls and dashes can be seen. The expectant mother is engaged in incubation, and a caring partner feeds her, bringing berries and various seeds. The incubation period lasts about 13 days.

The chicks that were born do not leave their nest for about two weeks, caring parents treat them in turn, mainly with sedge and aphids seeds. Due to the active feeding, the babies grow up rapidly and soon make their first flights themselves, trying to get their own snack. and very rarely there are three.

Juveniles also form their own flocks, which often live in birch and alder thickets, where they feed. The life span measured by nature for tap dancers ranges from 6 to 8 years; in captivity, birds can live a couple of years more. Being already in old age, tap dancers still remain active, cheerful and mischievous, they have such a restless character.

The natural enemies of the tap dance

Photo: What a tap bird looks like

Photo: What a tap bird looks like

Amazing , but zoologists have not yet established who exactly is the enemy of the tiny tap dance in natural wild conditions. There are only speculations about this. Ornithologists believe that the tiny bird has enough enemies.

The bird is saved by its briskness, swiftness and talent for disguising its nests. It is very difficult to see the tap dance nest, it is hidden in the densest shrubbery or the lower tier of trees. Birds do not make their shelters very high, apparently, they are afraid of large feathered predators.

According to various assumptions, scientists rank as enemies of tap dances:

  • ordinary cats;
  • representatives of the mustelid family;
  • large birds of prey;

Mustelids climb trees perfectly, so they can ruin the nesting of the tap dance, animals tend to eat not only defenseless chicks, but also bird eggs. Tap dancers living in urban areas or near other human settlements may suffer from ordinary cats who love to hunt birds. Birds are especially vulnerable in winter, when they fly closer to people to feed themselves, because in winter it is very difficult for babies.

Of course, one can also rank among the enemies of these birds a person who, carrying out his tireless economic activities, interferes with natural biotopes, occupies various territories for his own needs, displaces birds from inhabited places, cuts down forests and negatively affects the ecological situation in general, which negatively affects bird life.

Population and species status

Photo: Tap Dance

Photo: Tap-dancing

The area of ​​distribution of tap-dancing is very extensive, but there is no specific data on the number of these little birds. It is only known that in different regions and at different times their number can vary significantly. It all depends on the amount of food in a particular area and the climate at different times of the year.

Where there are many cones, seeds of plants and berries, numerous flocks of tap dances can suddenly appear, announcing their arrival with a hubbub and chirping. Birds roam in search of food, so it is not possible to track exactly where their population is large and where it is too small, these indicators are too changeable and changeable.

As for the special conservation status, the common tap dance does not have it. According to the international classification of IUCN, these birds belong to the species that causes the least concern, in other words, the threat of extinction is not terrible, which is good news. On the territory of our country, tap dancing is also not listed in the Red Book. Maybe this happens because many feathered couples have time to get offspring twice, and sometimes three times in one summer period.

Of course, there are factors that negatively affect bird life, and these are, first of all, anthropogenic. People indirectly influence the way of life of birds by engaging in various, sometimes environmentally unfriendly activities. Man changes landscapes by cutting down forest thickets, plowing up land, grazing livestock, draining swampy areas, polluting the environment as a whole.

All this negatively affects many of our smaller brothers, including tap dancers, but , fortunately, there are no sharp declines in the number of bird populations, so the birds are not threatened with extinction. It remains to be hoped that in the future their population will remain stable.

In conclusion, it remains to add that the miniature tap dance is of great benefit to people, because birds eat a lot of weed seeds and a lot of aphids harmful to crops. These fearless little ones do not shy away from people and in famine and frosty times they try to ask for help from him, flying closer to human dwellings and feeders. In winter, be sure to feed the birds so that it is easier for them to survive the harsh season. And they will delight us not only with their perky disposition, unusual song, but with bright scarlet hats, which stand out especially against the backdrop of a snow-white winter landscape.

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