Coal Tit

Neil Bygrave (NATURELENS)

Exeter, United Kingdom

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Coal tit – Parus ater. Devon, UK.

Text adapted from – http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/wildfacts/factfiles...

There are 12 races., P.a. britannicus is found in Brtiain, but P.a.ater also occurs rarely. P.a. hibernicus is the Irish race. With a length of 10 -11.5cm they are the smallest of the true tits

Coal tits are widespread and common over most of their range. They breed in the UK, France and most of Iberia east to the Urals, reaching about 67°N in Norway and Sweden and the White Sea in Russia. In the southern part of their range, they breed on Corsica, Sardinia, Italy, Sicily, Greece, Crete, Cyprus and Turkey. They also breed in the southern Crimea and Caucasus, and in North Africa.

They mainly occur in conifer woods, but are also found in mixed forest. They also breed in parks and gardens with suitable conifers.

Coal tits forage for seeds, insects (especially aphids) and spiders in the treetops. They tend to collect seeds and will hoard them for later.

They are a resident species in the UK, but are a short-distance migrant in the north and east of their range. Migrants move towards the south-west. In winter they join with other tits to form flocks which roam through woodlands and gardens in search of food. Their flight is fast and flitting and they hang upside down, and also hover, to reach food on the underside of branches and leaves.

Breeding takes place around late April. Coal tits nest in holes in trees, rocks, roots or in the ground, and they will also use nest-boxes. The nest is a cup of moss lined with hair and wool. The female lays 7-11 eggs, which are white with pink spots. She incubates the eggs for 14-16 days. When they hatch, both parents tend to the chicks, and they fledge after about 18-20 days. Coal tits typically have one, but occasionally two, broods a year.

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