Definitions

Hume's law

Hume's Ground Tit

Hume's Ground Tit (Pseudopodoces humilis), previously known as Hume's Ground Jay, is a lark-like bird. It is similar in shape to the (unrelated) genus Podoces but is much smaller, about the size of a House Sparrow. It is a greyish-fawn in colour with a tawny flush and has soft, lax feathers on the body. The upper parts tend to be a darker fawn-brown with the central tail feathers and wing primaries a little darker still; the head is colored like the underside with a darker cap reminiscent of a chickadee's or White-winged Tit's (without the neck spot) in shape. The bill, legs and feet are black. The flight of this bird is not strong and it flies low over the ground preferring to run or jump out of the way if approached which it does very quickly.

This species has only recently been removed, on the basis of DNA analysis, from the Crow family (Corvidae) and placed into the Tit family (Paridae). It is the only species in genus Pseudopodoces.

It occurs from north western Szechuan province in China westwards to Tibet in open, grass steppe type country or sometimes arid regions with small scattered shrubs. It avoids anywhere that has dense vegetation, especially trees.

Food is obtained on the ground and includes a wide range of insect prey often obtained by probing wild Yak dung and turning it over to flush them out. It peers into rock crevices and into holes in the ground also in its search for food. If chased, it will bolt straight down the nearest hole (very un-birdlike behaviour) until the danger has passed, usually caused by a bird of prey.

The nest is also unusual in being in a tunnel which the bird(s) excavate themselves. It is usually dug horizontally into a bank or wall of earth and can reach a depth of up to 1.8 metres. The nest is placed at the end of this in a small chamber and consists usually of just wool placed onto a grass base. The 4–6 eggs are pure white and the young stay with their parents for some time after fledging.

The voice is described as a plaintive whistling, cheep-cheep-cheep-cheep and it also has a two syllable Finch-like call.

References

  • Del Hoyo, J.; Elliot, A. & Christie D. (editors). (2006). Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 12: Picathartes to Tits and Chickadees. Lynx Edicions. ISBN 9788496553422
  • James, H. F. et al. (2003). Pseudopodoces humilis, a misclassified terrestrial tit (Paridae) of the Tibetan Plateau: evolutionary consequences of shifting adaptive zones. Ibis 145: 185–202. pdf file
  • Database entry includes justification for why this species is of least concern
  • Cyberbirding - Images of Hume's Ground Tits and their habitat

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