Long-tailed Tit

Long-tailed Tit Aegithalos caudatus is most widespread bushtit, ranging Ireland to Kamchatka Peninsula and Japan. In China, nominate resident in northeast Inner Mongolia, Heilongjiang, and Jilin, with some wintering south of breeding range to Beijing. Broadleaved and mixed forest; also parks and gardens with trees, even in urban areas. Gregarious; usually in family flocks of up to a dozen birds (except in spring, when in pairs), often huddling together for warmth. Makes domed nest camouflaged with flakes of lichen. Similar to silver-throated bushtit, with which it has been considered conspecific. Small, fluffy tit with a white head, tiny black bill, and long tail that makes up about half the total length of the bird. Head, throat, and underparts snow-white with pinkish tinge on belly and flanks. Mantle, wings black (fringed white on secondaries and tertials) with dull pink and white area on scapulars and sides of mantle. Black tail edged white, rectrices becoming gradually much shorter from central to outer tail. Juvenile shorter-tailed, with dark head sides and pale red orbital ring; no pink shoulders. Adult silver-throated bushtit has black lateral crown-stripes and a black bib. Bill, feet black. Peppercorn eye with yellow orbital ring. Very vocal; busy flocks constantly make contact calls. Has tuneless, explosive chirr and high-pitched whistles. — 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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