Japan cherry and blue sky April

Japan cherry and blue sky April
Japan cherry and blue sky April

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Great Tit/ Musvit - Parus major


Great Tit eating fat from a birch. /foto: stig bachmann nielsen. naturplan.dk


 Great Tit (Parus major) is a passerine bird in the tit family Paridae. It is a common breeding  and sedentary bird and a breeding-straying bird in Denmark, both in the forest and in the city. It is considered the fifth most common bird in Denmark and is also a common migrating bird and winter guest from Scandinavia, Finland and Baltikum.The Great Tit was originally described under its current binomial name by Linnaeus in his 18th century work, Systema Naturae. Its scientific name is derived from the Latin parus "tit" and maior "larger".

The Great Tit is spread in all Europe, the Middle East, northern and central Asia and parts of north Africa.The Great tit is like other tits a vocal bird and has up to 40 types of calls and songs. 


The Great Tit is ab. 14 cm long, it is slightly smaller than a sparrow. It is a distinctive bird with strong and clear colours. The underside is yellow with a black mid-stripe, more or less wide, the head is black with white cheeks. The back is greenish and the wings bluish with a single white wing band; the beak is short and pointed. The black mid-stripe of the underside varies in width. It is wider in males than in females. The narrowest stripe has the young bird. The birds show their place in the hieraki through the width of the stripe. The most dominant male has the widest black middle stripe. It is the same for the yellow colour of the underside, which is most intense in males and most pale in young birds. Birds that live in deciduous forests are more intense yellow than the birds living in coniferous forests. The birds in the city are the most pale. The yellow colour is due to karotenoids, which the Great Tit gets through the food. The substance is also used for the immune defense and to help breaking down harmful substances. It is an expression of surplus to have a strong yellow underside.


Like all tits it is a cavity nester, usually nesting in a hole in a tree. It is very fond of nestboxes and it is able to use wall-holes, downspouts, post boxes or flower pots. The nesting material can be moss, hair, wool or feathers. The female lays around 12 red dotted white eggs and incubates them alone, although both parents raise the chicks. In most years the pair will raise two broods.The nests may be raided by woodpeckers or squirrels and infested with fleas, and adults may be hunted by Sparrowhawks.

they also eat Cinnamon Danish....
The food is insects and larvaes, worms and seeds -  in winter the bird will stay in the garden if it can get fat and sunflower seeds. During the breeding season, the tits prefer to feed protein-rich caterpillars to their young.  Large food items, such as large seeds or prey, are delt with by "hold-hammering", where the item is held with one of both feet and then struck with the bill until it is ready to eat. Using this method, a Great Tit can get into a hazelnut in about twenty minutes. When feeding young, adults will hammer off the heads off large insects to make them easier to consume, and remove the gut from caterpillars so that the tannins in the gut will not retard the chick's growth

Great Tits combine dietary versatility with a considerable amount of intelligence and the ability to solve problems with insight learning, that is to solve a problem through insight rather than trial and error. In England, Great Tits learned to break the foil caps of milk bottles delivered at the doorstep of homes to obtain the cream at the top. This behaviour, first noted in 1921, spread rapidly in the next two decades. In 2009, Great Tits were reported killing and eating pipistrelle bats. This is the first time a songbird has been seen to hunt bats. The tits only do this during winter when the bats are hibernating and other food is scarce. They have also been recorded using tools, using a conifer needle in the bill to extract larvae from a hole in a tree. In 2013, some individual Great Tits were noted to attack, kill and to some extent eat other small birds at wintertime feeding spots in Finland.


The Great Tit threatens other birds by stretching neck and beak upwards so the yellow breast with the black stripe will look threatening to the enemy, the bird moves its head at the same time so the white cheek look like threatening big "eyes".
The Great Tit has adapted well to human changes in the environment and is a common and familiar bird in urban parks and gardens. The Great Tit is a popular garden bird due to its acrobatic performances when feeding on nuts or seed. Its willingness to move into nest boxes has made it a valuable study subject in ornithology, and it is one of the best studied birds in the world. It has been particularly useful as a model for the study of the evolution of various life-history traits, particularly clutch size. A study of a literature database search found 1,349 articles relating to Parus major for the period between 1969 and 2002.

Special info: 
Until 2005 this species was lumped with numerous other subspecies. DNA studies have shown these other subspecies to be distinctive from the Great Tit and these have now been separated as two separate species, the Cinereous Tit of southern Asia, and the Japanese Tit of East Asia. The Great Tit remains the most widespread species in the genus Parus.
The total population is estimated at between 300–1,100 million birds in a range of 32.4 million km2 (12.5 million mi2). While there have been some localised declines in population in areas with poorer quality habitats, its large range and high numbers mean that the Great Tit is not considered to be threatened, and it is classed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List.


source: Danmarks fugle og natur, Felthåndbogen, 2013; Roger Peterson, Europas fugle, Gads forlag 1985; Klaus Malling Olsen, Danmarks fugle, en oversigt, DKO; English wikipedia. 
 photo grethe bachmann & stig bachmann nielsen, naturplan dk.
























3 comments:

Kittie Howard said...

I always learn the most fascinating things when I visit your blog, Grethe. The Great Tit is indeed amazing at adapting. What really fascinated me is how they pull the guts out of the caterpillar. I had no idea the guts had tannins. I'm allergic to tannins myself, not that I eat caterpillars, LOL.

Teresa Evangeline said...

What gorgeous photos! I love reading about birds and how they live, their nesting, mating, and eating habits... Lovely.

Thyra said...

Hej Kittie, maybe they taste good!! But if they turn into a pretty butterfly then I'll let them live....

Hej Teresa! Thank you. I love those sweet little birds - and here in spring they are so full of energy that I feel good.

It's spring now!
Hurray!

Grethe ´)