Azure Tit

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Azure Tit
In Kyrgyzstan
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Paridae
Genus: Cyanistes
Species: C. cyanus
Binomial name
Cyanistes cyanus
(Pallas, 1770)
Synonyms

Parus cyanus

The Azure Tit (Cyanistes cyanus) (often still Parus cyanus), is a passerine bird in the tit family Paridae. It is a widespread and common resident breeder throughout Russia and central Asia.

It is found in temperate and subarctic deciduous or mixed woodlands, scrub and marshes. It is resident, and most birds do not migrate. It nests in a tree hole, laying about 10 eggs. The bird is a close sitter, hissing and biting when disturbed. Its food is insects and seeds.

This 12–13 cm bird is unmistakable. The head, tail corners, wing bars and underparts are white. There is a dark line through the eye, and the upperparts are blue.

This is the eastern counterpart of the common Eurasian Blue Tit. It will hybridise with that species, but the offspring usually show a blue crown, rather than the white of Azure Tit. The calls are similar to Blue Tit, calling dee, dee, dee or a scolding churr. The song is a tsi-tsi-tshurr-tsi-tsi-tshurr, which has been described as intermediate between Blue Tit and Crested Tit.

Taxonomy[edit]

Most authorities retain Cyanistes as a subgenus of Parus, but the American Ornithologists' Union treats Cyanistes as a distinct genus. This is supported by mtDNA cytochrome b sequence analysis which suggests that Cyanistes in not only distinct, but not close to other titmice (Gill et al., 2005).

The Azure Tit not infrequently hybridizes with the Blue Tit in western Russia; the resulting birds are called Pleske's Tit (Cyanistes × pleskei) and were once considered a distinct species.

Azure Tit with "Pleske's Tit" below

The population in central Asia, Yellow-breasted Tit (C. c. flavipectus or Parus flavipectus), is sometimes included as a subspecies of the Azure Tit.[1][2]

References[edit]