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Coal Tit

From Opus

P. a. aterPhoto by Donald TalbottRibcev-Laz Bohinj, Slovenia, September 2017
P. a. ater
Photo by Donald Talbott
Ribcev-Laz Bohinj, Slovenia, September 2017
Periparus ater

Parus ater
Includes: Black-crested Tit


[edit] Identification

P. a. britannicusPhoto by IanFHetton Bogs, Co. Durham, UK
P. a. britannicus
Photo by IanF
Hetton Bogs, Co. Durham, UK

L. 10–12 cm (4-4¾ in)

  • Large white nape spot
  • Black head
  • Glossy blue-black head, throat and neck
  • White on sides of face
  • Double wingbar
  • White underparts with buff to rufous shading on flanks
  • Black bill
  • Lead-coloured legs
  • Dark brown eyes


  • Duller than adult
  • Black head with no sheen
  • White of nape and cheeks tinged with yellow

[edit] Similar Species

Great Tit is the most obvious candidate for confusion in Europe

[edit] Distribution

JuvenilePhoto by HelenBDodd Wood, Bassenthwaite Lake, UK, May 2010
Photo by HelenB
Dodd Wood, Bassenthwaite Lake, UK, May 2010

Europe and British Isles to eastern Siberia, Japan, Korea, China, Taiwan. Southern limits include north Africa, Caucasus, the Himalayas and southern China.
Resident, but along with Blue Tit is the most mobile tit in autumn, northern populations in some years moving south in large numbers.

[edit] Taxonomy

Sometimes still referred to as Parus ater.

[edit] Subspecies

Black-crested TitPhoto by Rajiv LatherNarkanda, India
Black-crested Tit
Photo by Rajiv Lather
Narkanda, India
Photo by gmorganThe Lodge, Sandy, Bedfordshire, February 2018
Photo by gmorgan
The Lodge, Sandy, Bedfordshire, February 2018

There are 19 subspecies[1]:

  • P. a. hibernicus: Ireland (except extreme north-eastern in County Down)
  • P. a. britannicus: Britain and north-eastern Ireland
  • P. a. ater: Continental Europe to Siberia, Mongolia, Sakhalin and north-eastern China
  • P. a. vieirae: Iberian Peninsula
  • P. a. sardus: Corsica and Sardinia
  • P. a. atlas: Northern Morocco
  • P. a. ledouci: North Africa (northern Tunisia and northern Algeria)
  • P. a. cypriotes: Cyprus
  • P. a. moltchanovi: Crimean Peninsula
  • P. a. derjugini: Mountains of north-eastern Turkey, western Georgia and Black Sea coast of Russia
  • P. a. michalowskii: Caucasus and Transcaucasia
  • P. a. phaeonotus: southeastern Azerbaijan, northern Iran, and southwestern Turkmenistan; status in southwestern Iran (Zagros Mountains) unclear, perhaps only a rare nonbreeding visitor
  • P. a. rufipectus: Kazakstan (Tien Shan Mountains) to north-western China (Xinjiang)
  • P. a. aemodius: Eastern Himalayas to north-eastern Myanmar, Tibet and south-western China
  • P. a. pekinensis: North-eastern China (southern Liaoning to Shaanxi and Shantung Peninsula)
  • P. a. kuatunensis: Montane forests of south-eastern China (Anhui, Fujian and Zhejiang)
  • P. a. ptilosus: Montane forests of Taiwan
  • P. a. insularis: Southern Kuril Islands, Japan and Cheju-Do Islands (Korea)
  • P. a. melanolophus: In the coniferous forests from eastern Afghanistan to western Nepal (formerly recognised as a full species, Black-crested Tit)

Subspecies P. a. melanolophus was formerly recognised as full species, Black-crested Tit.

[edit] Habitat

Breeds mainly in conifer woods, often with some taller spruces; locally also in pine or mixed forest.

[edit] Behaviour

[edit] Diet

Forages (for seeds, insects, spiders) in top of trees and in outer branches.

The will also cache seeds in crevices[3].

[edit] Breeding

April to July. Nests in hole, sometimes among tree roots or in rock crevice. Readily uses nest boxes. The nest is made of moss, hair, fur and maybe feathers. The clutch consists of 7-9 white eggs with reddish-brown speckles. They are incubated for around 2 weeks, fledging at 16-19 days. There may be a second brood.

[edit] References

  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2017. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2017, with updates to August 2017. Downloaded from
  2. Bird Watching
  3. Birdforum thread

[edit] External Links


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