Poecile is a genus of birds in the tit family Paridae. It contains 15 species, which are scattered across North America, Europe and Asia; the North American species are the chickadees. In the past, most authorities retained Poecile as a subgenus within the genus Parus, but treatment as a distinct genus, initiated by the American Ornithologists Union, is now widely accepted. This is supported by mtDNA cytochrome b sequence analysis.
The genus Poecile was erected by the German naturalist Johann Jakob Kaup in 1829. The type species was subsequently designated as the marsh tit. The name Poecile is from Ancient Greek poikilos "colourful". A related word poikilidos denoted an unidentified small bird. It has traditionally been treated as feminine (giving name endings such as cincta); however, this was not specified by the original genus author Johann Jakob Kaup, and under the ICZN the genus name must therefore be treated by default as masculine, giving name endings such as cinctus.
|Willow tit, Poecile montanus|
The genus includes the following fifteen species:
|Image||Common Name||Scientific name||Distribution|
|White-browed tit||Poecile superciliosus||central China and Tibet.|
|Sombre tit||Poecile lugubris||southeast Europe and southwest Asia|
|Père David's tit||Poecile davidi||central China in southern Gansu, western Hubei, southern Shaanxi and Sichuan|
|Marsh tit||Poecile palustris||temperate Europe and northern Asia|
|Caspian tit||Poecile hyrcanus||northern Iran, just extending into Azerbaijan.|
|Black-bibbed tit||Poecile hypermelaenus||central and eastern China to southeast Tibet and western Myanmar.|
|Willow tit||Poecile montanus||temperate and subarctic Europe and northern Asia|
|Sichuan tit||Poecile weigoldicus||central China|
|Carolina chickadee||Poecile carolinensis||United States from New Jersey west to southern Kansas and south to Florida and Texas|
|Black-capped chickadee||Poecile atricapillus||Across North America, from New England to Newfoundland in the east, and from Washington to Alaska in the west|
|Mountain chickadee||Poecile gambeli||western United States|
|Mexican chickadee||Poecile sclateri||Mexico|
|Grey-headed chickadee||Poecile cinctus||subarctic Scandinavia and northern Asia, and also into North America in Alaska and the far northwest of Canada|
|Boreal chickadee||Poecile hudsonicus||Canada, Alaska, and the northern edges of the northernmost portions of the lower forty-eight United States|
|Chestnut-backed chickadee||Poecile rufescens||Pacific Northwest of the United States and western Canada, from southern Alaska to southwestern California|
The black-capped chickadee (Poecile atricapillus) is a small, nonmigratory, North American songbird that lives in deciduous and mixed forests. It is a passerine bird in the tit family Paridae. It is the state bird of Massachusetts in the United States, and the provincial bird of New Brunswick in Canada. It is well known for its capability to lower its body temperature during cold winter nights as well as its good spatial memory to relocate the caches where it stores food, and its boldness near humans (sometimes feeding from the hand).Boreal chickadee
The boreal chickadee (Poecile hudsonicus) is a small passerine bird in the tit family Paridae. It is found in the boreal forests of Canada and the northern United States.Carolina chickadee
The Carolina chickadee (Poecile carolinensis) is a small passerine bird in the tit family Paridae. It is often placed in the genus Parus with most other tits, but mtDNA cytochrome b sequence data and morphology suggest that separating Poecile more adequately expresses these birds' relationships (Gill et al., 2005). The American Ornithologists' Union has been treating Poecile as distinct genus since 1998.Caspian tit
The Caspian tit (Poecile hyrcanus) is a passerine bird in the tit family. It is sometimes lumped with sombre tit Poecile lugubris (del Hoyo et al. 2007), but some research suggests that it is a separate species, more closely related to willow and Songar tits (Harrap & Quinn 1996).
It breeds in the deciduous mountain forests of northern Iran, just extending into Azerbaijan.
The 12.5 cm long Caspian tit has a dark brown cap and bib, rich brown upperparts and underparts which are pinkish-buff when fresh, but become paler and greyer as the feathers age. The sexes are similar, but juveniles are somewhat duller.
The most common call of this generally quiet bird is a thin zsit, but a nasal double note, chev chev, is also given.
The Caspian tit excavates its own nesting hole, usually in a rotten stump or in a tree, more or less decayed. Most nests examined are cups of felted material, such as fur, hair and wood chips, but feathers are sometimes used. The number of eggs varies from five to seven, white with faint reddish spots or blotches.
It feeds on caterpillars, insects and seeds, much like other tits.Chestnut-backed chickadee
The chestnut-backed chickadee (Poecile rufescens, formerly Parus rufescens) is a small passerine bird in the tit family, Paridae.
It is found in the Pacific Northwest of the United States and western Canada, from southern Alaska to southwestern California. It is a permanent resident within its range, with some seasonal movements as feeding flocks move short distances in search of food. They usually move to lower elevations in the same area upon onset of winter and move back up to higher elevations in late summer.
It is a small chickadee, 11.5–12.5 cm (4.5–4.9 in) long with a weight of 8.5–12.6 g (0.30–0.44 oz). The head is dark blackish-brown with white cheeks, the mantle is bright rufous-brown, the wing feathers are dark gray with paler fringes. The underparts are white to pale grayish-white, with rufous or pale gray flanks. It is often considered the most handsome of all chickadees. They often move through the forest in mixed feeding flocks, and are often seen in large groups with bushtits and warblers.
There are three subspecies, with the flanks being grayer and less rufous further south (del Hoyo et al. 2007):
Poecile rufescens rufescens (Townsend, 1837). Alaska south to northwest California. Broad rufous band on flanks.
Poecile rufescens neglectus (Ridgway, 1879). Coastal central California (Marin County). Narrow rufous band on flanks.
Poecile rufescens barlowi (Grinnell, 1900). Coastal southwestern California (south of San Francisco Bay). Almost no rufous color on flanks.
Its habitat is low elevation coniferous and mixed coniferous forests. In the San Francisco Bay Area this bird has readily adapted to suburban settings, prompting a range expansion. It is a cavity-nester, usually utilizing an abandoned woodpecker hole, but sometimes excavating on its own. Chestnut-backed chickadees use lots of fur and hair to make their nests. Their nests are actually 50% fur and hair. The most common hair they use comes from deer, rabbits, and coyotes. The adult chickadees also make a layer of fur about a centimeter thick which is used to cover the eggs on the nest whenever they leave the nest. It lays 5–8 (sometimes 9) eggs per clutch.
Its food is largely insects and other invertebrates gleaned from foliage. Chestnut-backed chickadees take some seeds, especially those of conifers, and fruit. It will visit bird feeders, including hummingbird feeders, and especially loves suet.
Often, it is still placed in the genus Parus with most other tits, but mtDNA cytochrome b sequence data and morphology suggest that separating Poecile more adequately expresses these birds' relationships (Gill et al., 2005). The American Ornithologists' Union has been treating Poecile as a distinct genus for some time already.Chickadee
The chickadees are a group of North American birds in the tit family included in the genus Poecile. Species found in North America are referred to as chickadees, while other species in the genus are called tits.
They are small-sized birds overall, usually having the crown of the head and throat patch distinctly darker than the body. They are at least 6 to 14 centimetres (2.4 to 5.5 in) in size.
Their name reputedly comes from the fact that their calls make a distinctive "chick-a-dee-dee-dee", though their normal call is actually fee-bee, and the famous chick-a-dee-dee-dee is an alarm call. The number of "dees" depends on the predator.The Chickadee (specifically the black-capped chickadee Poecile atricapillus formerly Parus atricapillus) is the official bird for the state of Massachusetts. Maine has named the chickadee as the official state bird, but never specified which particular kind of chickadee.Grey-headed chickadee
The grey-headed chickadee or Siberian tit (Poecile cinctus, formerly Parus cinctus) is a passerine bird in the tit family Paridae. It is a widespread resident breeder throughout subarctic Scandinavia and northern Asia, and also into North America in Alaska and the far northwest of Canada. It is a conifer specialist. It is resident, and most birds do not migrate. Curiously (with respect to its name), the bird has no grey on its head, which is black, white, and brown.
It is a fairly large tit, 13.5–14 cm long with a weight of 11–14.3 g. The head is dark brown with white cheeks, the mantle brown, the wing feathers blackish with pale fringes, and the underparts whitish with pale brown flanks.
Formerly, it was placed in the genus Parus with most other tits, but mtDNA cytochrome b sequence data and morphology suggest that separating Poecile more adequately expresses these birds' relationships. The American Ornithologists' Union has been treating Poecile as a distinct genus for some time already. The genus name Poecile has often been treated as feminine, giving the species epithet a feminine form in scientific Latin: cincta. However, the genus was not specified as feminine by its original author Johann Jakob Kaup, and under the ICZN it must therefore be treated by default as masculine, giving the masculine form of the species epithet: cinctus.Marsh tit
The marsh tit (Poecile palustris) is a passerine bird in the tit family Paridae and genus Poecile, closely related to the willow, Père David's and Songar tits. It is small (around 12 cm long and weighing 12 g) with a black crown and nape, pale cheeks, brown back and greyish-brown wings and tail. Between 8 and 11 subspecies are recognised. This bird's close resemblance to the willow tit can cause identification problems, especially in the United Kingdom where the local subspecies of the two are very similar (there, they were not recognised as separate species until 1897).
Globally, the marsh tit is classified as Least Concern, although there is evidence of a decline in numbers (in the UK, numbers have dropped by more than 50% since the 1970s, for example). It can be found throughout temperate Europe and northern Asia and, despite its name, it occurs in a range of habitats including dry woodland. The marsh tit is omnivorous; its food includes caterpillars, spiders and seeds. It nests in tree holes, choosing existing hollows to enlarge, rather than excavating its own. A clutch of 5–9 eggs is laid.Mexican chickadee
The Mexican chickadee (Poecile sclateri) is a small songbird, a passerine bird in the tit family Paridae. It is still often placed in the genus Parus with most other tits, but mtDNA cytochrome b sequence data and morphology suggest that separating Poecile more adequately expresses these birds' relationships (Gill et al., 2005). The American Ornithologists' Union had been treating Poecile as distinct genus for some time already.
Adults are 12.5–13.5 cm long with a wingspan of 18–21 cm and a weight of 7.5–11 g. Both sexes have a black cap, white cheeks, and a short black bill. Their backs and flanks are gray and they have paler grayish underparts. Similar in appearance to the black-capped chickadee and mountain chickadee, the Mexican chickadee can be distinguished by its longer black bib, which extends from its chin down onto its upper breast. A whitish band below the bib extends down the center of the belly.
It is a permanent resident of wooded highlands in western, central and northeastern Mexico, the range extends north into extreme southeastern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico. Although primarily nonmigratory, Mexican chickadees sometimes fly to lower elevations during the cold of winter.
The Mexican chickadee's song is distinct from other chickadees; it is a complex burry trilled whistle of chischu-wur and a rich cheelee. They travel in pairs or small groups, and may join multi-species feeding flocks.
The nest is constructed by the female in a snag or tree cavity up to 18 m above the ground, and consists of grasses, moss, strips of bark, and is lined with animal fur. She lays between five and eight ovate white eggs, marked with fine reddish brown spots. Their breeding biology is not well known, but it is estimated that eggs are incubated for 11–14 days by the female, and the altricial young fledge in 18–21 days.Mountain chickadee
The mountain chickadee (Poecile gambeli) is a small songbird, a passerine bird in the tit family Paridae. Often, it is still placed in the genus Parus with most other tits, but mtDNA cytochrome b sequence data and morphology suggest that separating Poecile more adequately expresses these birds' relationships. The American Ornithologists' Union has been treating Poecile as a distinct genus for some time.
Adults of both sexes have a black cap joining a black postocular stripe behind distinctive white eyebrows. Their backs and flanks are gray and they have paler gray underparts; they have a short black bill, and a black bib. The typical adult wingspan is 7.5 in (19 cm), and the overall length is 5–6 in (13–15 cm).
Common inhabitants of the mountainous regions of the western United States, their range extends from the southern Yukon to California and Rocky Mountain States in the United States. A few mountain chickadees may migrate locally up the mountains in the summer and down into the mountain foothills in the winter; but this phenomenon is not well documented.
They breed monogamously, producing 1 to 2 broods per year. Incubation by the female is 14 days. The young are altricial, and stay in the nest for 21 days while being fed by both parents.
Their primary diet is insects during the summer and breeding season; conifer seeds and other plant seeds are taken throughout the year. They cling to the undersides of branches and to tree trunks, searching for food in the bark or breaking seeds open by hammering them with their beaks.
Their call is a throaty chick-adee-dee-dee, while their song is a 3- or 4-note descending whistle fee-bee-bay or fee-bee-fee-bee. They travel in pairs or small groups, and may join multi-species feeding flocks after breeding season.
Recent studies have indicated that in mixed flocks, black-capped chickadees become dominant over mountain chickadees.
The specific name honors naturalist William Gambel.Père David's tit
Père David's tit or the rusty-breasted tit (Poecile davidi) is a species of bird in the tit family Paridae. It is endemic to central China in southern Gansu, western Hubei, southern Shaanxi and Sichuan.
It is 12–13 centimetres (4.7–5.1 in) long with a weight of 10–12.5 grams (0.35–0.44 oz), and is similar to the related sombre tit (P. lugubris) in appearance, with a black head with white cheeks, dark grey-brown back, wings and tail, and rusty brown underparts.
Its natural breeding habitat is subalpine forests at 2,135–3,400 m altitude, mostly resident but higher altitude birds descending a little in winter to below 3,050 metres (10,010 ft).Sombre tit
The sombre tit (Poecile lugubris) is a member of the tit family found in southeast Europe and southwest Asia.
Sombre Tits occur in low density in thin woodlands at the elevation range between 1000 and 1600 m a.s.l. Just like the other Tit species, the Sombre Tit is a cavity-nesting species, which makes the nests in the holes in Juniper, Willow, Poplar, and other relevant tree species. In some cases they nest in iron pipes (e.g. the ones used for orchard fencing), and in artificial nest-boxes. The clutch usually consists on 4 to 9 eggs, having two clutches per year. The species appear to be resident in the country with slight local movements. The breeding season lasts from early April till end of July - beginning of August. The food mainly consists on insects.
Though it is traditionally placed in Parus, mtDNA cytochrome b sequence data suggest that that genus should be split, as already adopted by the American Ornithologists' Union, for example. This species is part of the chickadee group, which would then make up the genus Poecile. In Poecile, this species forms part of a group of apparently rather basal species, the relationships of which are ill-defined. They also include the varied and probably the white-fronted tit (which were sometimes separated in Sittiparus), and possibly the white-browed and Caspian tits.Songar tit
The Songar tit (Poecile montanus songarus, formerly Parus songarus) is a passerine bird in the tit family. It is the southern counterpart of the willow tit P. montanus, and is usually included in it as a subspecies.
It breeds in the deciduous mountain forests of southeast Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and northern China.
The 13 cm long Songar tit has a dark brown cap, blackish bib, rich brown upperparts, white cheeks and cinnamon buff underparts. The sexes are similar, but juveniles are somewhat duller.
The most common call is a nasal zee, zee, zee, but the notes of the bird evidently vary considerably
The Songar tit usually excavates its own nesting hole, often in a rotten stump or in a tree, more or less decayed. Most nests examined are cups of felted material, such as fur, hair and wood chips, but feathers are sometimes used. The number of eggs is from five to six, white with small reddish spots or blotches.
They feed on caterpillars, insects and seeds, much like other tits.Stoa Poikile
The Stoa Poikile (Ancient Greek: ἡ ποικίλη στοά) or Painted Porch, originally called the Porch of Peisianax (Ancient Greek: ἡ Πεισιανάκτειος στοά), was erected during the 5th century BC and was located on the north side of the Ancient Agora of Athens. The Stoa Poikile was one of the most famous sites in ancient Athens, owing its fame to the paintings and loot from wars displayed in it. The Stoa was the location from which Zeno of Citium taught Stoicism. The philosophical school of Stoicism takes its name from having first been expounded here, and was derived from the Greek word stoa. Zeno taught and lectured to his followers from this porch. Excavations carried out by the American School of Classical Studies at Athens over the past two decades have revealed much of the foundations and some lower elements of the stoa on the north side of the Athenian Agora; it had a Doric columnar facade and an Ionic interior colonnade.The Stoa Poikile was decorated by fresco painter and sculptor Micon of Athens in collaboration with Polygnotos of Thasos; both artists worked around the mid-5th century BC. The paintings were most probably hung on the inner wall of the stoa. In the time of Pausanias (2nd century AD), the paintings in the Stoa included:
The Battle of Oenoe (author unknown)
Amazonomachy by Micon
The taking of Troy by Polygnotus
The Battle of Marathon by Panaenus (also ascribed to Micon and Polygnotus who may have assisted in the work)There is a contrast between the mythical and historical events portrayed: depictions of Theseus' victory over the Amazonians and the Fall of Troy are juxtaposed sharply with the portrayal of the historic Battle of Oenoe (conjectured to have occurred in the pentecontaetia at Oenoe, Attica on the Thriasian Plain near Eleutherae), the first important Athenian victory over Sparta, and the Battle of Marathon.
The Stoa Poikile stood in good repair for over six centuries, possibly gaining additional artwork over the centuries. It suffered when Athens was sacked in 267 AD by Herulians, although only easily looted items were taken at that time. The paintings were removed by a Roman governor shortly before 396 AD. The Stoa itself probably existed for another 50–100 years until it was demolished to gain building material for a city wall.Tit (bird)
The tits, chickadees, and titmice constitute the Paridae, a large family of small passerine birds which occur mainly in the Northern Hemisphere and Africa. Most were formerly classified in the genus Parus.
While commonly referred to as "tits" throughout much of the English-speaking world, these birds are called either "chickadees" (onomatopoeic, derived from their distinctive "chick-a dee dee dee" alarm call) or "titmice" in North America. The name titmouse is recorded from the 14th century, composed of the Old English name for the bird, mase (Proto-Germanic *maison, German Meise), and tit, denoting something small. The former spelling, "titmose", was influenced by mouse in the 16th century. Emigrants to New Zealand presumably identified some of the superficially similar birds of the genus Petroica of the family Petroicidae, the Australian robins, as members of the tit family, giving them the title tomtit, although, in fact, they are not related.
These birds are mainly small, stocky, woodland species with short, stout bills. Some have crests. They range in length from 10 to 22 cm. They are adaptable birds, with a mixed diet including seeds and insects. Many species live around human habitation and come readily to bird feeders for nuts or seed, and learn to take other foods.Varied tit
The varied tit (Sittiparus varius) is a perching bird from the tit family, Paridae. It occurs in eastern Asia in Japan, Korea, and locally in northeastern China (southern Liaoning) and extreme southeastern Russia (southern Kurile Islands).White-browed tit
The white-browed tit (Poecile superciliosus, formerly Parus superciliosus) is a species of bird in the tit family Paridae. It is endemic to the mountain forests of central China and Tibet.
It is 13.5–14 cm long, with a weight of 10–12 g. The plumage pattern is very similar to that of the western North American mountain chickadee P. gambeli (of which it has on occasion been considered a subspecies, despite its being on a different continent), differing in the breast and cheeks being rusty brown, not white, and having a longer and more sharply defined white eyebrow; the back is also a richer brown, not greyish-brown (del Hoyo et al. 2007).
It breeds in alpine shrub forests of Berberis, Rhamnus, Rhododendron, and Salix at 3,200–4,235 m altitude, descending in winter to slightly lower levels where it occurs in coniferous forests, primarily Picea. It nests on the ground in rock crevices or old rodent burrows (del Hoyo et al. 2007).
The genus name Poecile has often been treated as feminine (giving the species name ending superciliosa); however, this was not specified by the original genus author Johann Jakob Kaup, and under the rules of the ICZN, the genus name must therefore be treated by default as masculine, giving the name ending superciliosus (del Hoyo et al. 2007).White-fronted tit
The white-fronted tit (Sittiparus semilarvatus) is a species of bird in the family Paridae.
It is endemic to the Philippines. Its natural habitat is subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests.
It is threatened by habitat loss.
The white-fronted tit was formally described by the Italian ornithologist Tommaso Salvadori in 1865 under the binomial name Melaniparus semilarvatus. The species was formerly included in the genus Parus but was moved to Sittiparus when Parus was split into several resurrected genera following the publication of a detailed molecular phylogenetic analysis in 2013. The genus Sittiparus had originally been erected by the Belgium politician and naturalist Edmond de Sélys Longchamps in 1884 with the varied tit as the type species.There are three subspecies:
S. s. snowi (Parkes, 1971) – north east Luzon
S. s. semilarvatus (Salvadori, 1865) – central and southern Luzon
S. s. nehrkorni (Blasius, W, 1890) – MindanaoWillow tit
The willow tit (Poecile montanus) is a passerine bird in the tit family, Paridae. It is a widespread and common resident breeder throughout temperate and subarctic Europe and northern Asia. It is more of a conifer specialist than the closely related marsh tit, which explains it breeding much further north. It is resident, and most birds do not migrate.
In the east of its range it is much paler than marsh tit, but as one goes west the various races become increasingly similar, so much so that it was not recognised as a breeding bird in Great Britain until the end of the 19th century, despite being widespread. The British population has declined by 94% since 1970 making it the most threatened resident bird in Britain. It now the focus of a Back from the Brink project which aims to reverse this decline.The willow tit is distinguished from the marsh tit by a sooty brown instead of a glossy blue black cap; the general colour is otherwise similar, though the under parts are more buff and the flanks distinctly more rufous; the pale buff edgings to the secondaries form a light patch on the closed wing. The feathers of the crown and the black bib under the bill are longer, but this is not an easily noticed character. However, the more graduated tail (not square) shows distinctly when spread. Length is 11.5 cm, and wings range from 60–70 mm.
The commonest call is a nasal zee, zee, zee, but the notes of the bird evidently vary considerably. Occasionally a double note, ipsee, ipsee, is repeated four or five times.
The willow tit often excavates its own nesting hole, even piercing hard bark; this is usually in a rotten stump or in a tree, more or less decayed. Most nests examined are cups of felted material, such as fur, hair and wood chips, but feathers are sometimes used. The number of eggs varies from six to nine, with reddish spots or blotches..
Birds feed on insects, caterpillars, and seeds, much like other tits. This species is parasitised by the moorhen flea, Dasypsyllus gallinulae.