Fire-capped Tit

Fire-capped Tit
Fire-capped Tit Cephalopyrus flammiceps olivaceus, Sichuan, China, May. (Craig Brelsford)

Fire-capped Tit Cephalopyrus flammiceps breeds from western Himalayas to Qin Mountains in Shaanxi. Ssp. olivaceus has two main breeding ranges, one from southern Shaanxi to southern Ningxia and southeast Gansu, and another encompassing south-central Sichuan, southeast Tibet, most of Yunnan, and western Guizhou. Nominate in extreme southwest Tibet on Indus River and at Burang, near border with Nepal and India. HABITAT & BEHAVIOR Breeds in temperate broadleaved forests and open woodland, to 3500 m (11,480 ft.). Moves restlessly through crowns of trees, often lower. Not shy. Nests in tree cavities like a true tit (Paridae), not in hanging structures typical of penduline tits. ID & COMPARISON Small, compact, mainly yellowish tit. Breeding male olivaceus is distinctive, with reddish forecrown, chin, and center of throat. Rest of upperparts mainly olive, with yellow wingbars on median and greater coverts. Wings and tail blackish, with pale borders to tertials and yellow fringes forming wing panel. Remainder of throat golden yellow; breast greenish-yellow, belly pale yellow. Nominate male has more extensive reddish cap. Female duller, with yellowish forecrown and olive-yellow underparts. Juvenile mostly pale grey below (some juveniles show yellow tinge on breast) and greyer above than adults. Female and immature distinguished from Yellow-browed Tit Sylviparus modestus by lack of crest, stronger wingbars, and finer bill. BARE PARTS Conical bill grey; feet grey. Phylloscopus warblers have less conical bills. VOICE Soft chirrups and wide array of songs, delivered from trees and in flight. — Craig Brelsford

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Daniel Bengtsson served as chief ornithological consultant for Craig Brelsford’s Photographic Field Guide to the Birds of China, from which this species description is drawn.

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