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Coal Tit (Parus ater) 22-9-14 | by Brian Carruthers-Dublin-Eire
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Coal Tit (Parus ater) 22-9-14

Meantán dubh

 

Tomtit, Coalmouse, Black Ox-eye

 

One of Ireland's top-20 most widespread garden birds.

 

Status: Common resident throughout Ireland.

 

Conservation Concern: Green-listed in Ireland. The European population has been evaluated as Secure by BirdLife International.

 

Identification: At first glance looks like a smaller, less colourful version of a Great Tit. Back, tail and wings are grey with a hint of green and two small white wingbars. Underside dirty white with a brownish wash. Most distinctive feature is the head pattern - pure white cheeks, black crown, bib and side of nape - the nape itself is a long white nape patch. Bill is small and pointed, legs bluish-grey. Prefers coniferous woodland, but can occur in other habitats including gardens. Has habit of prising peanuts from feeders and flying away to eat or cache them elsewhere. Usually in small numbers but can join other tits to form foraging flocks in winter.

 

Similar Species: Blue Tit, Great Tit.

 

Call: Some phrases of the song similar to the Great Tit's "teacher, teacher…" but the quality of Coal Tit's song has been likened to the repetive whistle of a bicycle pump - a rapid "pitchew, pitchew, pitchew.." , with other variations. Usual call a clear "chew".

 

Diet: Insects, seeds and nuts. Will take peanuts and fat at bird tables.

 

Breeding: Breeds throughout Ireland mostly in coniferous woodland, but also in other woodland, farmland and gardens. Nests in cavity in tree or wall and will use nestboxes.

 

Wintering: Widespread. Large flocks are occasionally seen at headlands along the south and west coast, but the reasons for these movements remain unclear.

 

Where to See: Common and widespread throughout Ireland.

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Taken on September 22, 2014