Definitions

penduline

Penduline tit

The penduline tits are a family of small passerine birds, related to the true tits. All but the Verdin and Fire-capped Tit make elaborate bag nests hanging from trees (whence "penduline", hanging), usually over water; inclusion of the Fire-capped Tit in this family is disputed by some authorities.

Characteristics

Penduline tits resemble the true tits (Paridae) but have finer bills with more needle-like points. Like the true tits, they are insectivores that in some species also eat seeds, and have strong legs and feet with which they sometimes hang upside-down while foraging. Unlike them, the penduline tits often hold prey down with a foot while they eat it (Perrins 2003).

The penduline tits' typical plumage colors are pale grays and yellows and white, though the European Penduline Tit has black and chestnut markings and some species have bright yellow or red (Perrins 2003).

All live in Eurasia and Africa except the Verdin, which lives in arid parts of the southwestern U.S. and northern Mexico. Most live in open country with trees or bushes, ranging from desert to marsh to woodland, but the Forest Penduline Tit lives in rain forest. They spend most of the year in small flocks (Perrins 2003).

Of the two species with aberrant nests, the Verdin builds a domed nest out of thorny twigs and the Fire-capped Tit nests in tree holes that it lines. The eggs are white, with red spots in some species; the Verdin lays blue-green eggs with red spots. Incubation lasts about 13 or 14 days, and the nestlings fledge at about 18 days (Perrins 2003).

Systematics

Sometimes, these birds are included as subfamily Remizinae in the titmice family Paridae. Which taxonomical lineup one prefers is a matter of taste; that these families are close relatives is well established by now. If the penduline tits are included in the Paridae, the stenostirid "warblers" would have to be included as another subfamily, while if they are considered a separate family, the Sultan Tit and the Yellow-browed Tit would possibly need to be excluded from the Paridae (Gill et al. 2005; Jønsson & Fjeldsa 2006).

There are 13 species in 5 genera, following Harrap & Quinn (1996):

Family: REMIZIDAE

References

  • Gill, Frank B.; Slikas, Beth & Sheldon, Frederick H. (2005): Phylogeny of titmice (Paridae): II. Species relationships based on sequences of the mitochondrial cytochrome-b gene. Auk 122: 121-143. DOI: 10.1642/0004-8038(2005)122[0121:POTPIS]2.0.CO;2 HTML abstract
  • Harrap, Simon & Quinn, David (1996): Tits, Nuthatches & Treecreepers. Christopher Helm, London. ISBN 0-7136-3964-4
  • Jønsson, Knud A. & Fjeldså, Jon (2006): Determining biogeographical patterns of dispersal and diversification in oscine passerine birds in Australia, Southeast Asia and Africa. J. Biogeogr. 33(7): 1155–1165. (HTML abstract)
  • Perrins, Christopher M. (2003): "Penduline Tits". In Perrins, Christopher (editor): The Firefly Encyclopedia of Birds. Firefly Books. ISBN 1-55297-777-3.

External links

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