(Temminck & Schlegel, 1848)
5 living, 1 recently extinct; see text
The varied tit (Sittiparus varius) is a perching bird from the tit family, Paridae. It occurs in eastern Asia in Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and locally in northeastern China (southern Liaoning) and extreme southeastern Russia (southern Kurile Islands).
The varied tit is 12–14 cm (4.7–5.5 in) long and weighs 16–18 g (0.56–0.63 oz). The wing length is 6.0–7.8 cm (2.4–3.1 in). In the nominate race S. v. varius the crown, the bill, the throat, the upper breast and the nape are black. Forehead, face, and cheeks are white. Back, wings, and tail are bluish grey. Mantle, lower breast, belly and undertail coverts are chestnut coloured. From the crown to the nape runs a thin white central line. The feet are dark grey.
Its habitat consists of open mixed forests, in particular with the Japanese Castanopsis species Castanopsis cuspidata and Japanese larch, coniferous forests with Japanese yews, sugi, and pines as well as bamboo forests at mountain slopes and in river valleys.
The varied tit eats a mixed diet consisting of seeds and insects, namely caterpillars.
Its call consists of tiny tones which sounds like tzu….tzu….tzu…
Until the end of the twentieth century the varied tit was usually placed along with most of the other member of the tit family in the genus Parus. In 2005 the report of a molecular phylogenetic study that examined mitochondrial DNA sequences from members of the tit family, recommended including the varied tit along with around fifteen other species in the resurrected genus Poecile. The authors of a 2013 study that analysed both mitochondrial and nuclear sequences, suggested splitting Poecile and placing the varied tit and its sister taxon, the white-fronted tit in their own genus Sittiparus. This proposal was adopted by the International Ornithologists' Union.
Owston's tit (Sittiparus owstoni), the Iriomote tit (Sittiparus olivaceus) and the Chestnut-bellied tit (Sittiparus castaneoventris) were formerly considered as subspecies of the varied tit, but were promoted to species status following the publication of a phylogenetic study in 2014.
- Sittiparus varius varius (Temminck & Schlegel, 1848) - Occurrence: southern Kuriles (Kunashir, Shikotan, Iturup), north-eastern China, central and southern Korea, Japan
- Sittiparus varius namiyei (Kuroda, 1918) - Occurrence: Toshima Island, Niijima and Kozu-Shima
- Sittiparus varius sunsunpi (Kuroda, 1919) - Occurrence: Tanegashima
- Sittiparus varius yakushimensis (Kuroda, 1919) - Occurrence: Yakushima
- Sittiparus varius amamii (Kuroda, 1922) - Occurrence: Amami Ōshima, Tokunoshima and Okinawa Island
- Sittiparus varius orii (Kuroda, 1923) Daito Varied Tit - Occurrence: formerly Daitō Islands (Kita Daitōjima and Minami Daitōjima), extinct c. 1940
- BirdLife International (2012). "Parus varius". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
- Gill, F.B.; Slikas, B.; Sheldon, F.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.
- Johansson, U.S.; Ekman, J.; Bowie, R.C.K.; Halvarsson, P.; Ohlson, J.I.; Price, T.D.; Ericson, P.G.P. (2013). "A complete multilocus species phylogeny of the tits and chickadees (Aves: Paridae)". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 69 (3): 852–860. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2013.06.019.
- Gill, Frank; Donsker, David (eds.). "Waxwings and their allies, tits & penduline tits". World Bird List Version 6.1. International Ornithologists' Union. Retrieved 15 February 2016.
- McKay, B.D.; Mays Jnr, H.L.; Tao, C.-T.; Wan, D.; Higuchi, H.; Nishium, I. (2014). "Incorporating color into integrative taxonomy: analysis of the Varied Tit (Sittiparus varius) complex in East Asia". Systems Biology 63 (4): 505–517. doi:10.1093/sysbio/syu016.
- del Hoyo, J., Elliot, A., & Christie D. (eds). (2007). Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 12: Picathartes to Tits and Chickadees. Lynx Edicions. ISBN 978-84-96553-42-2
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