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Long-tailed Tit

From Opus

Nominate A. c. caudatusPhoto © by the late Jascha777 (Mark Denman)Sweden, summer 2014
Nominate A. c. caudatus
Photo © by the late Jascha777 (Mark Denman)
Sweden, summer 2014

Alternative name: Long-tailed Bushtit

Aegithalos caudatus


[edit] Identification

A. c. rosaceusPhoto © by Andy Bright Hertfordshire, England, 1 April 2005
A. c. rosaceus
Photo © by Andy Bright
Hertfordshire, England, 1 April 2005

24–27 cm (9½-10½ in), weight 6-10 g
Very often will give the impression of a small fluffy circular ball with a long tail attached; more than half its length constitutes its 6-10 cm tail. Black and rosy-beige to greyish above and white below, with rosy-beige to greyish flanks. It has a white crown but different subspecies differs in amount of black in head. The different subspecies also differ in tail length, with northern populations having longer tails. The bill is very short.

Juvenile of all subspecies is darker and less glossy, with a broad dusky brown band through and behind the eye, and lacks rosy colours; right after fledging, the tail is also shorter.

[edit] Distribution

Europe and Asia but not in tropical areas.

[edit] Taxonomy

Silver-throated Tit was formerly included in this species.

[edit] Subspecies

A. c. rosaceus, juvenilePhoto © by G6 UXU Leighton Moss, Lancashire, England, 16 June 2016
A. c. rosaceus, juvenile
Photo © by G6 UXU
Leighton Moss, Lancashire, England, 16 June 2016

Seventeen subspecies in four subspecies groups are recognised[1]:

  • A. c. caudatus group: white head; body black, white and bright pink. North of Europe and Asia.
  • A. c. europaeus group: head white with blackish eyebrows; body black, white and dull pink. Temperate Europe.
  • A. c. alpinus group: head white with blackish eyebrows; body grey and dull white, little or no pink tones; tail shorter. Mediterranean region.
  • A. c. trivirgatus group: head white with blackish eyebrows; body black, white and dull pink. East Asia.
    • A. c. magnus: southern Korea and Tsushima Island (Kamino-shima and Shimono-shima)
    • A. c. trivirgatus: central Japan (Honshu, Awa-shima, Sado and Oki); Cheju-do Island (Korea)
    • A. c. kiusiuensis: southern Japanese islands (Shikoku, Kyushu and Yakushima)

[edit] Habitat

A. c. rosaceus in flightPhoto © by the late ChockyExmouth, Devon, 28 March 2011
A. c. rosaceus in flight
Photo © by the late Chocky
Exmouth, Devon, 28 March 2011

Deciduous woodlands with undergrowth, scrub and other bushy habitats; also common in parks and gardens. Also wetland reed beds.

[edit] Behaviour

[edit] Flight

Flight is short, whirring bursts and drops. Looks like a bouncing ball of fluff with a tail. Usually in flocks playing follow-my-leader from one patch of cover to another. Seldom stays still for long, flitting about within a bush, chasing insects.

[edit] Breeding

Woven nests containing spiders' webs and lichen are built in a tree or shrub. Up to a dozen eggs per clutch.

[edit] Diet

Diet includes insects, spiders and (mainly in winter) small seeds. Increasingly often visiting bird feeders in gardens, even in urban areas.

[edit] Vocalisation

A. c. trivirgatusPhoto © by letsbefrankTonboike Park, Kishiwada, Japan, 21 January 2017
A. c. trivirgatus
Photo © by letsbefrank
Tonboike Park, Kishiwada, Japan, 21 January 2017

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[edit] References

  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2018. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2018. Downloaded from
  2. Wikipedia contributors. (2019, February 7). Long-tailed tit. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 07:22, April 21, 2019, from
  3. Beaman, M., Madge, S., & Olsen, K. M. (1998). Fuglene i Europa, Nordafrika og Mellemøsten. Copenhagen, Denmark: Gads Forlag, ISBN 87-12-02276-4
  4. Harrap, S. (2019). Long-tailed Tit (Aegithalos caudatus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 16 April 2019).
  5. Hatchwell, B.J., D. J. Ross, M. K. Fowlie, A. McGowan (2001) Kin discrimination in cooperatively breeding long–tailed tits 268 Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series B: Biological Sciences.
  6. Sharp, S.P., Simeoni, M. & Hatchwell, B.J. (2008) Dispersal of sibling coalitions promotes helping among immigrants in a cooperatively breeding bird. 275. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences

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