The bushtits or long-tailed tits, Aegithalidae, are a family of small, drab passerine birds with moderately long tails. The family contains 13 species in four genera, all but one of which are found in Eurasia. Bushtits are active birds, moving almost constantly while they forage for insects in shrubs and trees. During non-breeding season, birds live in flocks of up to 50 individuals.[1] Several bushtit species display cooperative breeding behavior, also called helpers at the nest.[1]

Aegithalos caudatus side-on
Long-tailed tit Aegithalos caudatus
Song of the American bushtit,
Psaltriparus minimus
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Superfamily: Sylvioidea
Family: Aegithalidae
Reichenbach, 1850

Aegithalos Hermann 1804
Psaltriparus Townsend, 1837
Leptopoecile Severtsov, 1873

Distribution and habitat

All the Aegithalidae are forest birds, particularly forest edge and understory habitats. The species in the genus Aegithalos prefer deciduous or mixed deciduous forests, while the tiny pygmy tit is found mostly in montane coniferous forest. The bushtit is found in a wide range of habitats, including on occasion sagebrush and other arid shrublands, but is most common in mixed woodland. Most species in this family live in mountainous habitats in and around the Himalayas, and all are distributed in Eurasia except the American bushtit, which is native to western North America. The long-tailed tit has the most widespread distribution of any species of Aegithalidae, occurring across Eurasia from Britain to Japan. Two species in contrast have tiny distributions, the Burmese bushtit, which is entirely restricted to two mountains in Burma, and the pygmy bushtit, which is restricted to the mountains of western Java. The species in this family are generally not migratory, although the long-tailed tit is prone to dispersing in the northern edges of its range (particularly in Siberia). Many mountainous species move to lower ground during the winter.[2]


Bushtits Salem OR
In the non-breeding season American bushtit pairs join into large flocks

They are small birds, measuring 9 to 14 cm (3.5–5.5 in) in length, including the relatively long tail, and weighing just 4.5 to 9 g (0.16–0.32 oz). Their plumage is typically dull grey or brown, although some species have white markings and the long-tailed tit has some pinkish colour.[3] In contrast to the rest of the family the two Leptopoecile tit-warblers are quite brightly coloured, having violet and blue plumage. The crested tit-warbler is the only member of the family to have a crest. The bills in this family are tiny, short and conical in shape. The wings are short and rounded and the legs are relatively long.


Birds in this family live in flocks ranging from 4 to 50 individuals.[1] Flocks form as soon as one breeding season finishes and last until the next one begins. They maintain contact with "churring" calls; their songs are quiet.[3] Other species of birds, such as tits or warblers, will occasionally join the flock to forage.[1]

Diet and feeding

They are omnivorous, primarily eating insects and other invertebrates [4] such as leafhoppers, treehoppers, aphids, scale insects, and caterpillars.[5] Plant material, such as berries or seeds, is taken occasionally during the winter.[5] The family generally forages arboreally, usually in the shrub layer or canopy, and seldom visits the ground. Prey is generally gleaned from branches, leaves and buds. Less frequently, prey is taken in the air. While foraging, this agile family may hang upside down on branches (although this behaviour is not thought to occur in the tit-warblers) and even manipulate branches and leaves in order to locate hidden food.[2]


The family generally has a monogamous breeding system. Pairs may be aided by helpers, where a related individual (or more than one) helps the established pair raise the young. This has been recorded in at least four of the species; further research is required to see if the behavior carries over to other members of the family.[2][1] Aegithalids make domed, bag-like, nests of woven cobwebs and lichen, which they line with feathers. They make the nests in trees with thick foliage, making them difficult for predators to find.[4] The clutch comprises 6 to 10 white eggs, which in many of the species have red speckles. Adults incubate the eggs for 13 to 14 days; young stay in the nest for 16 to 17 days. In at least four of the species (the long-tailed tit, the American bushtit, the black-throated bushtit, and silver-throated bushtit), only the female incubates.[3][1] Young chicks are fed exclusively on insects and spiders.[2]


White-browed Tit-warbler
In contrast to most of the family the white-browed tit-warbler has brightly coloured plumage

The family Aegithalidae (as a subfamily Aegithalinae) was introduced by the German naturalist Ludwig Reichenbach in 1850.[6][7] The name comes from the Ancient Greek word aigithalos for a tit. Aristotle recognised three species: the long-tailed tit, the great tit, and the Eurasian blue tit.[8]

The pygmy bushtit is placed in this family because it moves around in flocks and its nests resemble the long-tailed tits', but information about it is so scanty that the placement is only provisional.[3] The Burmese bushtit is sometimes treated as conspecific with the black-browed bushtit.[2] The American bushtit was once thought to belong to the chickadee family, but it has distinctive behavioral habits, especially when it comes to nesting.[5]

There are 13 species in 3 genera.[9]





  1. ^ a b c d e f Li, J.; Lv, L.; Wang, Y.; Xi, B.; Zhang, Z. (2012). "Breeding biology of two sympatric Aegithalos tits with helpers at the nest" (PDF). Journal of Ornithology. 153 (2): 273–283. doi:10.1007/s10336-011-0740-z.
  2. ^ a b c d e Harrap, Simon (2008). "Family Aegithalidae (Long-tailed Tits)". In del Hoyo, Josep; Elliott, Andrew; Christie, David (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 13, Penduline-tits to Shrikes. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. pp. 76–101. ISBN 978-84-96553-45-3.
  3. ^ a b c d Perrins, Christopher M. (2003). "Long-tailed Tits". In Perrins, Christopher (ed.). The Firefly Encyclopedia of Birds. Firefly Books. pp. 556–557. ISBN 1-55297-777-3.
  4. ^ a b Perrins, C. (1991). Forshaw, Joseph (ed.). Encyclopaedia of Animals: Birds. London: Merehurst Press. p. 202. ISBN 1-85391-186-0.
  5. ^ a b c Kaufman, K. (1996). Lives of North American Birds. Houghton Mifflin: Boston.
  6. ^ Reichenbach, Ludwig (1850). Die vollständigste Naturgeschichte der Vögel (in German). Apt. II Band I. Dresden: Expedition der Vollständigsten Naturgeschichte. Plate LXII.
  7. ^ Bock, Walter J. (1994). History and Nomenclature of Avian Family-Group Names. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History. Number 222. New York: American Museum of Natural History. pp. 153, 253.
  8. ^ Jobling, J.A. (2018). del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J.; Christie, D.A.; de Juana, E. (eds.). "Key to Scientific Names in Ornithology". Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions. Retrieved 21 March 2018.
  9. ^ Gill, Frank; Donsker, David, eds. (2017). "Bushtits, leaf warblers, reed warblers". World Bird List Version 8.1. International Ornithologists' Union. Retrieved 21 March 2018.
  • Harrap and Quinn, Tits, Nuthatches and Treecreepers ISBN 0-7136-3964-4

External links


Acanthiza is a genus of passeriform birds, most endemic to Australia, but with two species (A. murina and A. cinerea) restricted to New Guinea. These birds are commonly known as thornbills. They are not closely related to species in the hummingbird genera Chalcostigma and Ramphomicron, which are also called thornbills.

They are found primarily in Australia and have a thin long beak. Colloquially the thornbill is sometimes referred to as a “tit” by locals, but in reality the Australian continent lacks any true tits, albeit Acanthiza species do show some similarities with tits in their behavior. They have a similar role as small insect-eating birds with titmice and kinglets. Like tits, Thornbills live in small groups foraging amidst trees and shrubs, and feed in a similar manner. Cooperative breeding is recorded from most species except the brown and Tasmanian thornbills.The habitat preferences of the group vary from dense forest to open saltbush and bluebush plains.

Acanthiza follow a very characteristic undulating path when flying. Their diet is formed essentially of little insects and plant lice that these birds glean from foliage. They are also exceptional acrobats that are easily able to stay head downward like tits do.

The nest of the Acanthiza is a large dome-shaped construction, completely enclosed except for a side hole, just like that of the long-tailed tit; however Acanthiza adds to it an additional room whose function is unknown. It is somewhat similar to the Aegithalidae in combining long incubation periods with highly synchronous hatching. This combination, normally impossible due to intense competition for food, occurs because parents and (usually) helpers can organise food supply in such a manner that sibling competition for food is virtually absent.The number of eggs usually ranges from two to four, and the incubation period is around twenty days with laying intervals of two days. The length of an adult bird is 8 to 10 centimetres (3.1 to 3.9 in).


Aegithalos is a songbird genus in the family Aegithalidae. The genus name Aegithalos was a term used by Aristotle for some European tits, including the long-tailed tit.It contains the following nine species:

Long-tailed tit, Aegithalos caudatus

Silver-throated bushtit, Aegithalos glaucogularis

White-cheeked bushtit, Aegithalos leucogenys

Black-throated bushtit, Aegithalos concinnus

White-throated bushtit, Aegithalos niveogularis

Rufous-fronted bushtit, Aegithalos iouschistos

Black-browed bushtit, Aegithalos bonvaloti

Burmese bushtit, Aegithalos sharpei

Sooty bushtit, Aegithalos fuliginosus

Pygmy bushtit, Aegithalos exilis

American bushtit

The American bushtit (Psaltriparus minimus) is the only species in the family Aegithalidae found in the New World, and the only member of the genus Psaltriparus. In North America, it is referred to simply as "bushtit".

Black-browed bushtit

The black-browed bushtit or black-browed tit (Aegithalos bonvaloti) is a species of bird in the family Aegithalidae. It is found in mid-southern China and far northern Burma. Its natural habitats are boreal forests and temperate forests. It was formerly considered conspecific with the rufous-fronted tit (A. iouschistos) of the central and eastern Himalayas but is now often regarded as a separate species. Sometimes the subspecies A. b. sharpei (Burmese tit) of western Burma is also treated as a species.

It is a small, long-tailed bird, 11–12 centimetres (4.3–4.7 in) long. It has grey upperparts, rufous breast and flanks and a white belly. The head is buff with a broad black mask, white forehead and a white bib, speckled black in the centre. The Burmese Tit has white rather than buff on the head, a dark breastband and a buff belly.

Black-throated bushtit

In older sources, "black-throated tit" can also mean the rufous-naped tit or the rufous-vented tit, which are true tits.

The black-throated bushtit (Aegithalos concinnus), also known as the black-throated tit, is a very small passerine bird in the family Aegithalidae.

Burmese bushtit

The Burmese bushtit (Aegithalos sharpei) is a species of bird in the family Aegithalidae.

It is endemic to southwestern Myanmar.

Its natural habitat is temperate forests.


Cettiidae is a newly validated family of small insectivorous songbirds ("warblers"), formerly placed in the Old World warbler "wastebin" assemblage. It contains the typical bush warblers (Cettia) and their relatives. As a common name, cettiid warblers is usually used.Its members occur mainly in Asia and Africa, ranging into Oceania and Europe. The tit hylia Pholidornis and green hylia (Hylia) are exclusively found in the forests of Africa. The pseudo-tailorbirds, tesias and stubtails, as well as Tickellia and Abroscopus warblers are mostly found in the forests of south and southeastern Asia, with one species reaching as far north as Japan and Siberia. The genus Cettia has the widest distribution of the family, reaching from Western Europe across Asia to the Pacific islands of Fiji and Palau. Most of the species in the genus are sedentary, but the Asian stubtail is wholly migratory and the Japanese bush warbler and Cetti's warbler are partly migratory over much of their range. A few species, such as the pale-footed bush warbler, are altitudinal migrants.

The species are small, stubby birds. Most have moderately long to long tails, while the stubtails and tesias have tiny tails that do not even emerge past their tail retrices. The group is typically clad in dull plumage, often with a line above the eye. Altogether the Cettiidae are a quite variable group containing many aberrant birds that hitherto had been uncomfortably placed with a wide range of unrelated families. The Megaluridae which contain birds which appear very similar to many cettiids are far more uniform by contrast.Most live in scrubland and frequently hunt food by clambering through thick tangled growth.

Among the "warbler and babbler" superfamily Sylvioidea, the Cettiidae represent an ancient lineage. As a group, they are probably closest to the Aegithalidae, the long-tailed tits and relatives.

Crested tit-warbler

The crested tit-warbler (Leptopoecile elegans) is a species of bird in the Aegithalidae family.

It is found in China and possibly India.

Its natural habitat is boreal forests. It generally has a red hint to it and a bit of blue on, or near, its wings. The tail is of an emerald green colour.


Leptopoecile is a genus of birds in the long-tailed tit family Aegithalidae. The genus was once placed in the large family Sylviidae, but analysis of mitochondrial DNA placed it with the long-tailed tits.The genus contains two species:

White-browed tit-warbler (Leptopoecile sophiae)

Crested tit-warbler (Leptopoecile elegans)

Long-tailed tit

The long-tailed tit or long-tailed bushtit (Aegithalos caudatus), occasionally referred to as the silver-throated tit or silver-throated dasher, is a common bird found throughout Europe and Asia. The genus name Aegithalos was a term used by Aristotle for some European tits, including the long-tailed tit.

Old World warbler

Old World warblers are a large group of birds formerly grouped together in the bird family Sylviidae. The family held over 400 species in over 70 genera, and were the source of much taxonomic confusion. Two families were split out initially, the cisticolas into Cisticolidae and the kinglets into Regulidae. In the past ten years they have been the subject of much research and many species are now placed into other families, including the Acrocephalidae, Cettiidae, Phylloscopidae, and Megaluridae. In addition some species have been moved into existing families or have not yet had their placement fully resolved. A smaller family of warblers, together with some babblers formerly placed in the family Timaliidae and the parrotbills, are retained in a much smaller family Sylviidae.

Pygmy bushtit

The pygmy bushtit (Aegithalos exilis) is a species of bird in the bushtit family Aegithalidae. The species was once placed, along with the rest of its family, with the true tits, Paridae. Its relationship with other species in its family is uncertain, but is still placed within the family due to similarities in behaviour and vocalisations.It is endemic to Indonesia, where it occurs only on the island of Java. On Java it is restricted to montane forests and plantations above 1,000 m (3,300 ft) (occasionally down to 830 m (2,720 ft)) in the west of the island. It frequents conifer forest and other open forest types, and is often encountered on the forest edge.The pygmy bushtit is the smallest member of its family, and the smallest species of bird on Java. It is 8.5 to 8.7 cm (3.3–3.4 in) in length.

Rufous-fronted bushtit

The rufous-fronted bushtit or rufous-fronted tit (Aegithalos iouschistos) is a small passerine bird of the eastern and central Himalayas belonging to the long-tailed tit family, Aegithalidae.

Silver-throated bushtit

The silver-throated bushtit or silver-throated tit (Aegithalos glaucogularis) is a species of bird in the family Aegithalidae.

It is widely spread throughout central and eastern China and south towards Yunnan. Its natural habitat is temperate forests.

A paper on the silver-throated bushtit by the English naturalist Frederic Moore was read at a meeting of the Zoological Society of London on 27 June 1854. The English ornithologist John Gould then included the silver-throated bushtit in his book The Birds of Asia and cited Moore's paper. Gould used Moore's specific name but a different genus to obtain the binomial name Mecistura glaucogularis. He specified the type locality as Shanghai. As Gould's work appeared in print in 1855 before the publication of the proceedings of the Zoological Society, under the rules of the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature Gould's publication has priority. The name glaucogularis combines the Latin glaucus "glaucous" and the New Latin gularis "throated".The silver-throated bushtit was formerly considered a subspecies of the long-tailed tit (Aegithalos caudatus) but the plumage is distinctive and there are significant genetic differences.Two subspecies are recognised:

A. g. vinaceus (Verreaux, J, 1871) – central and northeast China

A. g. glaucogularis (Gould, 1855) – east central China

Sooty bushtit

The sooty bushtit (Aegithalos fuliginosus) is a species of bird in the family Aegithalidae.

It is endemic to central China.

Its natural habitat is temperate forests.

It can also be known as the white-necklaced tit, white-necklaced bushtit, or the sooty tit.


Sylvioidea is a superfamily of passerine birds, one of at least three major clades within the Passerida along with the Muscicapoidea and Passeroidea. It contains about 1300 species including the Old World warblers, Old World babblers, swallows, larks and bulbuls. Members of the clade are found worldwide, but fewer species are present in the Americas.

White-browed tit-warbler

The white-browed tit-warbler (Leptopoecile sophiae) is a species of bird in the Aegithalidae family. It is resident in the Tian Shan and central China as well as in the Himalayas where it is mainly found in winter. Its natural habitat is boreal forests.

Four subspecies are recognised:

L. s. sophiae Severtsov, 1873 – southeast Kazakhstan to northwest China, northwest India and north Pakistan

L. s. stoliczkae (Hume, 1874) – south Xinjiang, west Qinghai and extreme west Xizang (west China)

L. s. major Menzbier, 1885 – west Xinjiang and north Qinghai (west China)

L. s. obscurus Przewalski, 1887 – central Nepal, south and southeast Xizang and south and east Qinghai to south Gansu and Sichuan (west China)

White-cheeked bushtit

The white-cheeked bushtit (Aegithalos leucogenys), also known as the white-cheeked tit, is a species of bird in the family Aegithalidae. It is found in Afghanistan, Kashmir region, and Pakistan.

White-throated bushtit

The white-throated bushtit (Aegithalos niveogularis), also known as the white-throated tit, is a species of bird in the family Aegithalidae. It is found in India, Nepal, and Pakistan. Its natural habitat is subtropical or tropical moist montane forests.

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