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lyskonoh úzkozobý, samice / Red-necked Phalarope, female (Phalaropus lobatus)

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lyskonoh úzkozobý, samice / Red-necked Phalarope, female (Phalaropus lobatus)

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Sunday, 27 March 2011 19:43

Did you know... Crested Tit

IMG_2336PS2Although Crested Tit (Lophophanes cristatus) (formerly Parus cristatus) is a common passerine species in Czech Republic (250 000 – 500 000 pairs), it is not as well known as the usual „bird-feeder“ Tits, the Blue Tit (Cyanistes caeruleus, formerly Parus caeruleus) or Great Tit (Parus major). It is mostly because this small bird is bound to a forest environment and is easily overlooked hidden up in the tree tops. Experienced birdwatcher will not have problems identifying this bird though either by recognizing its typical rattling call or by seeing its distinctive crest (hence the name Crested Tit) on the top of its head. Crested Tit is also one of the birds that can easily be attracted by recorded call through the whole year but do not forget not to disturb the bird too much – for longer undisturbed observation it is definitely better to set up a bird-feeder with sunflower seeds into the Crested Tit territory.


Crested Tit is a resident, it occupies large proportion of Europe and western Asia, its occurrence on British Islands is restricted to a small areas of the ancient pinewoods in Scotland. In warm months of the year it feeds on insect (mostly larvae and spiders), in winter it forms small flocks with other small birds and feeds mostly on seeds. In months with abundance of food it gathers the food surplus to be consumed at the end of the winter I the times with lack of feeding opportunities. It usually nests in a standing dead tree, or snag.


Some interesting facts

The very first record of Crested Tit comes from 1678

The preference of old trees for nesting of Crested Tit has probably something to do with its diet requirements and is connected with the occurrence of insect. Dead rotten trees are often covered in lichens that are fed upon by insects (e.g. springtails or bark lice), which is eaten by spiders – the popular and important food source for the Crested Tit.


The presence of Crested Tit is a food indicator of the health of the forest ecosystem that naturally comprises standing dead trees. It takes approximately 10 years for the wood of the dead pine tree to be softened up enough so the birds can excavate a nest chamber in it. Then the dead tree can stand upright for another several decades before falling and create important breeding spot for many Crested Tit generations. Every year Crested Tits excavate a new nesting chamber as the old nests usually contain parasites (fleas). It has been observed that some pairs have nested in the old abandoned nesting holes of Great-spotted Woodpecker or Red Squirrel. The occurrence of heather on the forest floor also seems to have an influence on the Crested Tit population – the birds prefer ancient pinewoods with abundance of heather where they forage during winter over the pinewood plantation with scarcity of the floor cover.


It takes about 3 weeks for the Crested Tit to excavate a nesting chamber in the rotten wood – the excavation is done solely by a female. It takes another 5-6 days to make up the nest from moss, lichens, feathers, animals fur and spiders` webs.


As non-migratory birds, Crested Tit usually stay within the area they have been born. Their territory averages ca. 14 hectares and it widely overlaps with the neighbouring birds` territories.


Crested Tits are mostly predated by Pine Marten and Red Squirrel (nests) and by Sparrowhawk (adults).


The Crested Tit survival in the winter depends often of the food they stored during warmer months – it collects pine seeds in Spring and moth larvae in Autumn and store them usually under the lichens covering the branches of the tree.


The average life-span of Crested Tit is 2 years. The maximum recorded age (recorded in 1997) was 7 years, 11 months and 20 days.


Basic facts

1D3_2418PSOrder: Passeriformes

Family: Paridae

Genus and Species: Crested Tit (Lophophanes cristatus)

Body length: 11 - 12 cm

Wings span: 17 – 20 cm

Weight: 10 - 13 g


Nesting: Nesting period starts already in late March when the birds look for a suitable place to excavate the nesting chamber – usually an old tree branches, snag or a trunk; it rarely uses old nests of Great-spotted Woodpecker and Red Squirrels. The female lays 4-8 small brown-reddish speckled eggs (13x16 mm) at the end of April or beginning of May and are incubated by the female for 13-16 days, before hatching in mid- to late May. The chicks are then fed by both parents, but later one or another adult will take sole responsibility for bringing food to the nest. The chicks fledge 17-22 days after hatching, and are dependent on their parents for about another 23 days, with whom they forage for food.


Population: The estimate of the total population is 8 600 000 - 32 300 000 adult individuals, Breeding population is estimated to 6 100 000 - 12 000 000 pairs. The European population estimates to ca. 3 600 000 to 7 500 000 pairs.











Last Updated on Thursday, 07 April 2011 07:37
Comments (65)
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