Bearded Tit

Bearded Tit

Key facts

Scientific name: Panurus biarmicus
Status: Resident breeding species

Breeding pairs: 630 pairs

Conservation status: Green

Family: Bearded tit

Length: 12 cm
Wingspan: 17 cm
Weight: 15 g

Description

Adult male bearded tits have pale chestnut-coloured upperparts, sides of the body, flanks, and uppertail. The upperwing has white, chestnut, and black flight feathers. The scapulars are pale buff and they extend down the back forming a V-shape. The primary coverts are dark grey, and the flight feathers have white edges.

Bearded tits have a white breast and belly, and black vent and undertail coverts. The undertail rectrices are white.

On the head, the chin and throat are white, and the forehead, crown, ear-coverts, and nape and pale blue-grey. The lores and cheeks are black, and they have a conspicuous black moustache that extends from the down the sides of the bill to the side of the throat. The thin, pointed bill is yellow, the eyes are yellow, and the legs and feet are black.

Female bearded tits are paler, and they have buff undertail coverts. On the head, the face and crown are dull brown, with some darker brown mottling in the centre. The lores, chin, throat, and sides of the neck are grey.

Juveniles are similar to females but with less chestnut above, and on the flanks and uppertail. The lower mantle is black and the wings are black with pale edges. The underparts are duller.

Young males have black lores, yellow-green eyes, and a yellow bill. Young females have grey lores, and a darker bill.

Breeding

Bearded tits are monogamous and breed from late March to early September. They produce 2-4 broods a season. They situate their nests among the stems of reeds, sedges, and other marsh vegetation. Both sexes build the nest which is a deep cup-shaped structure made from dead leaves and reed blades, and lined with reed-heads, feathers, hair, and feathers. The lining may be added to during incubation.

Bearded tits lay 4-8 glossy, cream-coloured eggs with dark brown markings, which are incubated by both parents for 10-14 days. Chicks are cared for by both parents and fledge at 12-16 days after hatching. If disturbed they may leave the nest earlier, sometimes before they can fly. They rely on their parents for a further 2 weeks.

Feeding

In the summer bearded tits eat mainly invertebrates, including mayflies, dragonflies, moths, beetles, and mosquitoes, as well as spiders, slugs, and snails. In the late autumn and winter it eats mainly seeds and aquatic plants.

They forage in wetlands, muddy grounds and the edges of open water.

Bearded Tit

Where to see them

Bearded tits are found only in reedbeds and can be spotted all year round. Look out for them on the south and east coasts of England and Scotland.

Listen

Jarek Matusiak/xeno-canto

Did you know?

A bearded tit is not actually a tit but is a unique species that sits in its own taxonomic group Panuridae.

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