Long-Tailed Tit

Long-Tailed Tit

Long-Tailed Bushtit

Kingdom
Phylum
Class
Family
Genus
SPECIES
Aegithalos caudatus
Population size
40-80 mln
WEIGHT
7-9 g
LENGTH
13-15 cm
WINGSPAN
18 cm

The Long-tailed tit is a round-bodied tit with a short, stubby bill and a very long, narrow tail. The male and the female look the same and young birds undergo a complete molt to adult plumage before the first winter. The plumage is mainly black and white, with variable amounts of grey and pink.

Distribution

Long-tailed tits are globally widespread throughout northern Europe and the Palearctic, into boreal Scandinavia, and south into the Mediterranean zone. These birds inhabit deciduous and mixed woodland with a well-developed shrub layer, favoring edge habitats. They can also be found in scrub, heathland with scattered trees, bushes, and hedges, in farmland and riverine woodland, parks, and gardens.

Long-Tailed Tit habitat map

Climate zones

Habits and Lifestyle

Long-tailed tits are social birds. From July to February, the non-breeding season, they form flocks of relatives and non-relatives, roosting communally. When the breeding season begins, the flocks break up, and the birds attempt to breed in pairs. Males remain within the winter territory, while females usually wander to neighboring territories. At the end of the breeding season, in June and July, the birds reform the winter flocks in their winter territory. Long-tailed tits are diurnal energetic and noisy. When in flocks they issue constant contact calls and are often heard before they are seen. They have three main calls, a single high-pitched 'pit', a ‘triple trill’ eez-eez-eez, and a rattling 'schnuur'. The calls become faster and louder when the birds cross open ground or if an individual becomes separated from the group.

Seasonal behavior

Diet and Nutrition

Long-tailed tit is insectivorous throughout the year. It eats predominantly arthropods, preferring the eggs and larvae of moths and butterflies. Occasional vegetable matter is taken in the autumn.

Mating Habits

MATING BEHAVIOR
REPRODUCTION SEASON
starts in late February and early March
INCUBATION PERIOD
2-3 weeks
BABY NAME
chick
BABY CARRYING
6-8 eggs

Long-tailed tits are monogamous and form long-lasting pair bonds. Their breeding season starts in late February and early March. Pairs construct their nest from four materials: lichen, feathers, spider egg cocoons, and moss, with over 6,000 pieces used for a typical nest. The nest is a flexible sac with a small, round entrance on top, suspended either low in a gorse or bramble bush or high up in the forks of tree branches. The structural stability of the nest is provided by a mesh of moss and spider silk. The tiny leaves of the moss act as hooks and the spider silk of egg cocoons provides the loops; thus forming a natural form of velcro. The tit lines the outside with hundreds of flakes of pale lichens - this provides camouflage. Inside, it lines the nest with more than 2,000 downy feathers to insulate the nest. The female lays 6 to 8 eggs and incubates them between 2 and 3 weeks. The chicks are altricial (helpless) when they hatch and both parents feed them for 2 weeks until they fledge. Due to high predation, there is a high nest failure rate. If nest failure occurs after the beginning of May, the pair will not try to re-nest but may become helpers at a nest of another, usually related, pair. They will help to feed and raise a brood.

Population

Population threats

Due to their small size, Long-tailed tits are vulnerable to extreme cold weather and may lose up to 80% of the population in times of prolonged cold. They also suffer nest predation and in some parts of their range loss of suitable habitat.

Population number

According to the IUCN Red List, the total population size of the Long-tailed tit is 40,000-79,999,999 mature individuals. In Europe, the breeding population consists of 8,310,000-15,000,000 pairs, which equates to 16,600,000-30,100,000 mature individuals. National population estimates include: around 10,000-100,000 breeding pairs in China; around 10,000-100,000 breeding pairs in Korea; around 10,000-100,000 breeding pairs in Japan and around 10,000-100,000 breeding pairs in Russia. Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List and its numbers today are stable.

Ecological niche

Long-tailed tits play an important role in their ecosystem. As insectivorous birds, they help control populations of small insects they eat and in turn, they serve as a food item for local predators including crows and small raptors.

References

1. Long-Tailed Tit on Wikipedia - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Long-tailed_tit
2. Long-Tailed Tit on The IUCN Red List site - https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/103871923/87471081

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