Other Free Encyclopedias » Animal Life Resource » Birds » Titmice and Chickadees: Paridae - Physical Characteristics, Habitat, Behavior And Reproduction, Black-capped Chickadee (poecile Atricapilla): Species Accounts - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, DIET, CHICKADEES TITMICE AND PEOPLE, CONSERVATION STATUS

Titmice and Chickadees: Paridae - Great Tit (parus Major): Species Accounts

birds tits york north

Physical characteristics: Great tits are larger than other titmice. They have a yellow underside, with a powerful-looking head and bill. Plumage varies with specific physical location, but generally has a black throat, crown, and vertical breast stripe, white cheeks, green back, blue rump, wings, and tail with a yellow breast. They are about 5.5 inches (14 centimeters) long, and weigh between 0.5 and 0.8 ounces (14 and 22 grams). The sexes look alike, but males are generally larger in size than females.


Geographic range: They range across Eurasia and into Southeast Asia and northern China. The species is generally considered the most widely spread of all the titmice and chickadees.


Habitat: They occur over a wide range of different woodland types, but prefer to live in lowland, broad-leaved deciduous woodlands, especially those with plenty of shrub growth. Great tits stay away from conifer forests. They are also found in open and semi-open woodland areas, including gardens, parks, and cemeteries.

Great tits often use the same nest from year to year. (Illustration by Emily Damstra. Reproduced by permission.)

Diet: Great tits eat many different types of invertebrates (mostly insects), seeds, nuts, and fruits. They forage within all parts of trees and shrubs, but prefer to be among the leaves. Their strong bill is able to open seeds as large as hazel nuts. They do not store food for the winter.


Behavior and reproduction: Great tits migrate out of mountainous altitudes for the winter months, but otherwise are considered non-migratory. They can sometimes be territorial during the year, but also join flocks of many bird species outside of the breeding season. The loud, repetitive singing of great tits has many variations, especially within males.

Nests, frequently used for several seasons, occur in cavities of trees, walls, and burrows; and sometimes in nest boxes placed by people. The cup-type nest is lined with fine grasses. Females begin to lay eggs in February in southern populations and can continue as late as May in northern populations. Two clutches are often laid each year, with three clutches seldom occurring. Clutch size varies widely from three to eighteen eggs. The incubation period is twelve to fifteen days and only the females incubate the eggs. The fledging period is between sixteen and twenty-two days.


Great tits and people: Some cultural significance exists, especially with Europeans, who maintain close associations with the birds. Great tits are often believed to be the most studied wild bird in the world.

Conservation status: Great tits are very common, but some populations are very small in number. ∎


FOR MORE INFORMATION

Books:

Alsop, Fred J. III. Birds of North America. New York: DK, 2001.

Baughman, Mel M., ed. Reference Atlas to the Birds of North America. Washington, DC: National Geographic, 2003.

del Hoyo, Josep, Andrew Elliott, Jordi Sargatal, Jose Cabot, et al, eds. Handbook of the Birds of the World. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions, 1992.

Dickinson, Edward C., ed. The Howard and Moore Complete Checklist of the Birds of the World, 3rd ed. Princeton, NJ and Oxford, U.K.: Princeton University Press, 2003.

Field Guide to the Birds of North America, 4th ed. Washington, DC: National Geographic Society, 2002.

Harrison, Colin James Oliver. Birds of the World. London and New York: Dorling Kindersley, 1993.

Forshaw, Joseph, ed. Encyclopedia of Birds, 2nd ed. San Diego, CA: Academic Press, 1998.

Kaufman, Kenn, with collaboration of Rick and Nora Bowers and Lynn Hassler Kaufman. Birds of North America. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2000.

Perrins, Christopher M., and Alex L. A. Middleton, eds. The Encyclopedia of Birds. New York: Facts on File, 1985.

Sibley, David. The Sibley Guide to Birds. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2000.

Terres, John K. The Audubon Society Encyclopedia of North American Birds. New York: Knopf, 1980.

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