Green-backed Tit

Green-backed Tit
Green-backed Tit Parus monticolus yunnanensis, Dulong Gorge, Yunnan, China, elev. 2430 m (7,970 ft.), June. (Craig Brelsford)

Two of four ssp. of Green-backed Tit Parus monticolus in mainland China: nominate southern Tibet near border with Nepal and yunnanensis Sichuan and Yunnan north to Ningxia and south through southern Shaanxi to northern Guangxi. Also inseperatus endemic to Taiwan. HABITAT & BEHAVIOR Highly adaptable; found in many types of forest in a broad altitudinal range—to nearly 4000 m (13,120 ft.) in Yunnan, to 200 m (660 ft.) in Taiwan—but generally higher and in thicker and wetter forests than Japanese Tit P. minor. The two species can however often be found together in mixed-species feeding flocks. Alone, in pairs, or (especially in winter) in flocks. Like Japanese Tit, very inquisitive and active, and often tame. ID & COMPARISON Easily distinguished from Japanese Tit by bright, all-green mantle, double wingbars, and bright yellow underparts. Glossy black cap extends to nape, which also has small white patch; black line runs under large white cheek patch, connecting nape with bib and belly stripe. In male, belly stripe is broader, longer (nearly to vent; to center of belly in female), glossier, and blacker than female. Rest of underparts mostly bright yellow (whitish in Japanese Tit); lower belly and vent white. Olive-green mantle, scapulars, and back. Blue-black wings, with median and greater coverts fringed white, forming two wingbars. Tail feathers mainly black above, edged bluish; white sides of tail and tips to most feathers make it look largely white from below. Juvenile duller, with yellowish tinge on cheeks; ventral line shorter; black line nearly broken under cheek, and yellow gape. BARE PARTS Bill black; feet blue-black. VOICE Extensive repertoire of calls includes thin whistles and harsh, unmusical squeaks; vocalizations sweeter than Japanese Tit, the harsh calls drier and less metallic. — 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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