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.

Long-tailed tit
Long tailed Tit on a washing line - geograph.org.uk - 1714032
Perched on a washing line in Shropshire
Calls recorded in Cambridgeshire
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Aegithalidae
Genus: Aegithalos
A. caudatus
Binomial name
Aegithalos caudatus
  • Parus caudatus Linnaeus, 1758

Taxonomy and systematics

The long-tailed tit was formally described by the Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus in 1758 in the tenth edition of his Systema Naturae under the binomial name Parus caudatus.[2] The specific epithet caudatus is the Latin word for "tailed".[3] Linnaeus did not invent this Latin name. "Parus caudatus" had been used by earlier authors such as the Swiss naturalist Conrad Gessner in 1555,[4] the Italian naturalist Ulisse Aldrovandi in 1599,[5] and the English ornithologist Francis Willughby in 1676. Willughby listed the English name as the "long tail'd titmouse".[6]

The long-tailed tit was first classified as a true tit of the Parus group. Parus has since been split from the Aegithalidae, with the latter becoming a distinct family containing three genera:

This is the only representative of the Aegithalidae in northern Eurasia.[7] The long-tailed tit exhibits complex global variation with 17 races recognised,[8] divisible into three groups:[9]

Aegithalos caudatus caudatus with white head in Berlin
  • the caudatus group in northern Europe and Asia. Aegithalos caudatus caudatus has a pure white head
  • the europaeus group in southern and western Europe, north-east China, and Japan. Separating rosaceus from other members of the europaeus group though is problematic, relying on varying thickness of the crown stripes and amount of streaks and colour on the underparts[9]
  • the alpinus group in Mediterranean Europe and south-west Asia.

The silver-throated bushtit (Aegithalos glaucogularis) from eastern China was formerly considered conspecific but the plumage is distinctive and there are significant genetic differences.[10][11]

Where the groups meet there are extensive areas occupied by very variable ‘hybrids’. The British long-tailed tit, subspecies rosaceus, belongs to the europaeus group.[12]


This species has been described as a tiny (at only 13–15 cm in length, including its 7–9 cm tail), round-bodied tit with a short, stubby bill and a very long, narrow tail.[9] The sexes look the same and young birds undergo a complete moult to adult plumage before the first winter. The plumage is mainly black and white, with variable amounts of grey and pink.[9] Its appearance has given rise to the nickname "the flying lollipop".


Vocalisations are a valuable aid to locating and identifying these birds. 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.[13]

Long-tailed tit (Aegithalos caudatus) juvenile 2

Red eye-ring of juvenile, Oxfordshire

Long-tailed tit (Aegithalos caudatus) young bird

Yellow eye-ring of young bird, Oxfordshire

Long-tailed tit (Aegithalos caudatus) moulting

Young adult moulting Oxfordshire

Aegithalos caudatus

Member of white-headed subspecies

'Aegithalos caudatus chick'

Juvenile on nest

LongTailedTits 61

Brood of eight fledglings calling to be fed

Lttits feeder

Long-tailed tits on an urban feeder, Plymouth UK

Distribution and habitat

Schwanzmeise (Aegithalos caudatus) distribution map
Distribution map of long-tailed tits

The long-tailed tit is globally widespread throughout temperate northern Europe and Asia, into boreal Scandinavia and south into the Mediterranean zone.[14] It inhabits deciduous and mixed woodland with a well-developed shrub layer, favouring edge habitats. It can also be found in scrub, heathland with scattered trees, bushes and hedges, in farmland and riverine woodland,[9] parks and gardens. The bird's year-round diet of insects and social foraging bias habitat choice in winter towards deciduous woodland, typically of oak, ash and locally sycamore species. For nesting, strong preference is shown towards scrub areas.[14] The nest is often built in thorny bushes less than 3 metres above the ground.[9]

Behaviour and ecology

Food and feeding

The 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.[15]


Long-tailed Tit nest building Dungeness, Kent 07 Mar 2009 A
A long-tailed tit in its nest.
Aegithalos caudatus MWNH 2283
Egg, Collection Museum Wiesbaden

The nest of the long-tailed tit is constructed 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.[16] 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.[16] Nests suffer a high rate of predation with only 17% success.[17]

Social behaviour

Extensive work has been done by at Wytham Wood, Oxfordshire, in Germany and Japan.

Territory in bird life p145 (cropped)
"Males fighting for the possession of territory. The feathers have been torn from the crown of the defeated and dying rival" (H.E. Howard (1920), Territory in Bird Life), p.145

Outside the breeding season they form compact flocks of 6 to 17 birds, composed of family parties (parents and offspring) from the previous breeding season, together with any extra adults that helped to raise a brood.[18] These flocks will occupy and defend territories against neighbouring flocks.[13] The driving force behind the flocking behaviour is thought to be that of winter roosting, being susceptible to cold; huddling increases survival through cold nights.[19]

From July to February, the non-breeding season, long-tailed tits 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 monogamous pairs.[20] Males remain within the winter territory, while females have a tendency to wander to neighbouring territories.[13]

Pairs whose nests fail have three choices: try again, abandon nesting for the season or help at a neighbouring nest. It has been shown that failed pairs split and help at the nests of male relatives,[19][21][22] recognition being established vocally.[21] The helped nests have greater success due to higher provisioning rates and better nest defence.[19] At the end of the breeding season, in June–July, the birds reform the winter flocks in their winter territory.[13]

Antipaired LTTs
Long-tailed tits resting, mid-afternoon in energy saving anti-parallel paired formation in a willow


Due to high predation, there is a high nest failure rate. If nest failure occurs after the beginning of May, failed breeders will not try to re-nest, but may become helpers at a nest of another, usually related, pair. In one study, around 50% of nests had one or more helpers. By helping close relatives, helpers gain indirect fitness benefits by increasing the survivability of related offspring. Helpers may also gain greater access to mates and territories in the future. Helpers also gain experience raising young and therefore their future offspring have greater survivability rates.

Males and females are equally likely to become helpers. Parents may allow the care of helpers to be additive to their own efforts, or on the other extreme, they may reduce their efforts with the care of the helpers. Juvenile males have a higher survivability than juvenile females, although the survival rate for adults of the two sexes is the same. Offspring that were raised with helpers have a higher survivability than offspring raised without. Failed breeders that became helpers have a higher survivability than failed breeders who did not. This may be because of the reduced energy expenditure from sharing a nest. This is similar to acorn woodpeckers and green wood hoopoes. However, failed breeders that did not help are more likely to breed successfully in subsequent years, so there may be a cost of helping. This may be due to helpers having relatively poorer body conditions at the end of the breeding season, similar to pied kingfisher and white-winged chough. Successful breeders have a survivability rate around the survivability of failed breeders who became helpers.[20]

Status and conservation

Globally, the species is common throughout its range, only becoming scarce at the edge of the distribution.[9] The IUCN, BirdLife International and The British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) all list the long-tailed tit as a ‘species of least concern’, currently under little or no threat and reasonably abundant.[1][23]

Due to their small size they are vulnerable to extreme cold weather with population losses of up to 80% being recorded in times of prolonged cold. It is thought that populations rapidly return to previous levels due to high breeding potential[9]


  1. ^ a b BirdLife International (2016). "Aegithalos caudatus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. International Union for Conservation of Nature. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T103871923A87471081.en. Retrieved 21 March 2018.
  2. ^ Linnaeus, C. (1758). Systema Naturae per regna tria naturae, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis, Volume 1 (in Latin) (10th ed.). Holmiae:Laurentii Salvii. p. 190.
  3. ^ Jobling, James A (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London: Christopher Helm. p. 94. ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4.
  4. ^ Gesner, Conrad (1555). Historiae animalium liber III qui est de auium natura. Adiecti sunt ab initio indices alphabetici decem super nominibus auium in totidem linguis diuersis: & ante illos enumeratio auium eo ordiné quo in hoc volumine continentur (in Latin). Zurich: Froschauer. p. 617.
  5. ^ Aldrovandi, Ulisse (1637). Vlyssis Aldrovandi philosophi ac medici Bononiensis historiam naturalem in gymnasio Bononiensi profitentis, Ornithologiae (in Latin). Volume 2. Bononiae (Bologna, Italy): Franciscum de Franciscis Senensem. pp. 715–720 Lib. 17 Cap. 15.
  6. ^ Willughby, Francis (1676). Ornithologiae libri tres (in Latin). London: John Martyn. p. 176.
  7. ^ Cramp & Perrins 1993, p. 132.
  8. ^ Gill, Frank; Donsker, David, eds. (2017). "Bushtits, leaf warblers, reed warblers". World Bird List Version 8.1. International Ornithologists' Union. Retrieved 21 March 2018.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h Harrap, S. and Quinn, D. (1996) Helm Identification Guides: Tits, Nuthatches & Treecreepers. Helm Identification Guides.1 ed. London, Christopher Helm (A&C Black)
  10. ^ Harrap, S (2018). del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J.; Christie, D.A.; de Juana, E. (eds.). "Silver-throated Tit (Aegithalos glaucogularis)". Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions. Retrieved 24 March 2018.
  11. ^ Päckert, M.; Martens, J.; Sun, Y.-H. (2010). "Phylogeny of long-tailed tits and allies inferred from mitochondrial and nuclear markers (Aves: Passeriformes, Aegithalidae)". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 55 (3): 952–967. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2010.01.024.
  12. ^ Cramp & Perrins 1993, p. 133.
  13. ^ a b c d Gaston, A.J. (1973). "The ecology and behaviour of the long-tailed tit". Ibis. 115 (3): 330–351. doi:10.1111/j.1474-919X.1973.tb01974.x.
  14. ^ a b Cramp & Perrins 1993, p. 134.
  15. ^ Cramp & Perrins 1993, p. 136.
  16. ^ a b Hansell, Michael Henry (2007). Built by animals: the natural history of animal architecture. Oxford University Press. pp. 76, 77. ISBN 978-0-19-920556-1.
  17. ^ Hatchwell, B.J.; Russell, A.F.; Fowlie, M.K.; Ross, D.J. (1999). "Reproductive success and nest-site selection in a cooperative breeder: effect of experience and a direct benefit of helping" (PDF). Auk. 116 (2): 355–363.
  18. ^ Cramp & Perrins 1993, p. 138.
  19. ^ a b c Glen, N.W.; Perrins, C.M. (1988). "Cooperative breeding by long-tailed tits" (PDF). British Birds. 81 (12): 630–641.
  20. ^ a b McGowan, A.; Hatchwell, B.J.; Woodburn, R.J.W. (2003). "The effect of helping behaviour on the survival of juvenile and adult long-tailed tits Aegithalos caudatus". Journal of Animal Ecology. 72 (3): 491–499. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2656.2003.00719.x.
  21. ^ a b Hatchwell, J.; Ross, D.J.; Fowlie, M.K.; McGowan, A. (2001). "Kin discrimination in cooperatively breeding long-tailed tits". Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B. 268 (1470): 885–890. doi:10.1098/rspb.2001.1598. PMC 1088684.
  22. ^ Sharp, S.P.; Simeoni, M.; Hatchwell, B. (2008). "Dispersal of sibling coalitions promotes helping among immigrants in a cooperatively breeding bird". Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences. 275 (1647): 2125–2130. doi:10.1098/rspb.2008.0398. PMC 2603207.
  23. ^ Robinson, R.A. "BirdFacts: Long-tailed Tit Aegithalos caudatus". British Trust for Ornithology. Retrieved 30 March 2018.


  • Cramp, Stanley; Perrins, C.M., eds. (1993). "Aegithalos caudatus Long-tailed tit". Handbook of the Birds of Europe the Middle East and North Africa. The Birds of the Western Palearctic. Volume VII: Flycatchers to Strikes. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 133–145. ISBN 978-0-19-857510-8.

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).


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. Several bushtit species display cooperative breeding behavior, also called helpers at the nest.


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

Aegypius (mythology)

In Greek mythology, Aegypius (Αἰγυπιός), son of Antheus, son of Nomion, a Thessalian, was the lover of Timandre, a widow.

Barnsbury Wood

Barnsbury Wood is a Local Nature Reserve and Site of Borough Importance for Nature Conservation, Grade I, in Barnsbury in the London Borough of Islington. With an area of only 0.35 hectares, it is the smallest Local Nature Reserve in London It is owned and managed by Islington Council.In the nineteenth century the site was the garden of the vicarage of St Andrew's Church in Huntingdon Street. In the early twentieth century the garden was abandoned and became woodland. Islington Council purchased it in 1974, proposing to develop it, but in the 1990s it was decided to leave it as woodland and it was declared a Local Nature Reserve. Trees include sycamore, ash, lime and horse chestnut. Birds include the long tailed tit, and there are invertebrates such as the lesser stag beetle and the sixteen spot ladybird.There is access to the wood from Crescent Street. It is open from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesdays throughout the year and, with the aid of volunteers, Saturdays in the summer.

Bearded reedling

The bearded reedling (Panurus biarmicus) is a small, sexually dimorphic reed-bed passerine bird. It is frequently known as the bearded tit, due to some similarities to the long-tailed tit, or the bearded parrotbill. It is the only species in the family Panuridae.

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.


Dreneto (Bulgarian: Дренето) is a protected area in the western Balkan Mountains of Bulgaria. It is located in Botevgrad municipality in the land of the village of Litakovo. Under the name "Dreneto" are united the following localities: "Dreneto", "Babanova Curia", "Shavara" and "Draganova ornitsa". The protected area was established on 19 October 1979 by the Committee for the Protection of the Natural Environment. Drreneto has a total area of 33 hectares. The protected area includes natural meadows and old-growth oak forests which provide nesting ground for gray herons and white storks.The grassland is from the lowland grassland meadows type and include herbaceous plants such as docks (Rumex), reedmace (Typha), duckweed (Lemnoideae), etc. Among the tree and shrub species that can be found in Dreneto are common walnut (Juglans regia), European alder (Alnus glutinosa), white willow (Salix alba), field elm (Ulmus minor), European elder (Sambucus nigra), etc. There are 11 oak trees that are about 500 years old. The most common vertebrae include: long-tailed tit, corn bunting, hooded crow, white stork, Spanish sparrow, common buzzard, common kestrel, common frog, smooth newt; the marshlands are home to invertebrates, such as water scorpions (Nepa cinerea) and several dragonfly species (Odonata).

When the site was declared a protected area, it was mostly marshland. Nowadays, due to climate changes, the site is drying out and serious care is taken for its conservation and conservation. Hunting, logging and construction are prohibited.

Englemere Pond

Englemere Pond is a local nature reserve near North Ascot in Berkshire. The reserve is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). The site is owned by Crown Estate and managed by Bracknell Forest Borough Council.

Hog's Hole

Hog's Hole is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) based in Berkshire near Combe. It is within the North Wessex Downs.


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)

Lousehill Copse

Lousehill Copse is a local nature reserve in the Tilehurst suburb of the English town of Reading. The nature reserve is 13.03 hectares (32.2 acres) in size, and is under the management of the Reading Borough Council. The majority of the site comprises natural mature woodland surrounded by housing and featuring a pond, whilst the northern section of the reserve, also known as Comparts Plantation, is a grassy meadow area. To the south the reserve is crossed by Dee Road.Along with Blundells Copse & McIlroy Park, Lousehill Copse forms part of West Reading Woodlands.


The Paradiesgärtlein (Garden of Paradise) is a panel painting created around 1410 by an unknown painter referred to as Upper Rhenish Master. It belongs to the Mary in the rose bower type. The Paradiesgärtlein is one of the earliest paintings to naturalistically depict flora and fauna


Parrilla may refer to:

Parrilla is an Italian surname, from the feminine form of Parrillo or from parrilla ‘titmouse’, ‘long-tailed tit’ (a small bird), hence a nickname, perhaps for a small, lively, talkative person, though Fucilla refers to a Calabrian idiom, ‘the titmouse has sung to him’, indicating a person who has become rich.

Parrilla (torture), a style of torture involving a metal frame that takes its name from the grill

a style of grill used for cooking asado (barbecue), commonly found in Latin America, particularly Mexico, Argentina, Venezuela, Colombia, Chile, Uruguay and Paraguay


Proctophyllodes is a genus of feather mites, found on passerine birds.


Rakeeranbeg (, [ɹəˌciəɹənˈbeːɟ]), or Rathkeeranbeg (, [ɹaθˌciəɹənˈbeːɟ]; Irish: Ráth Caorthainn Beag, meaning "little fort of the rowan") is a townland in the Dromore area in County Tyrone in Northern Ireland. It is situated in the barony of Omagh East and the civil parish of Dromore and covers an area of 180 acres.

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

Structures built by animals

Nature abounds with structures built by animals other than humans, or animal architecture, as it is commonly termed, such as termite mounds, wasp and beehives, burrow complexes of rodents, beaver dams, elaborate nests of birds, and webs of spiders.

Often, these structures incorporate sophisticated features such as temperature regulation, traps, bait, ventilation, special-purpose chambers and many other features. They may be created by individuals or complex societies of social animals with different forms carrying out specialised roles. These constructions may arise from complex building behaviour of animals such as in the case of night-time nests for chimpanzees, from inbuilt neural responses, which feature prominently in the construction of bird songs, or triggered by hormone release as in the case of domestic sows, or as emergent properties from simple instinctive responses and interactions, as exhibited by termites, or combinations of these. The process of building such structures may involve learning and communication, and in some cases, even aesthetics. Tool use may also be involved in building structures by animals.


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