Ian’s Bird of the Week – Coal Tit

Coal Tit (Periparus ater hibernicus) (Irish) by Ian

 

Ian’s Bird of the Week – Coal Tit ~ Ian Montgomery

Newsletter ~ 3/17/14

Here is a St Patrick’s Day special: one of only four avian species that are deemed to have Irish races, the Coal Tit. The Irish race, Parus ater hibernicus, has yellower cheeks and underparts and more cinammon flanks than its British counterpart britannicus.

The other three Irish sub-species are the Irish Dipper (darker breast), the Irish Jay (darker overall) and the Irish Red Grouse (paler overall). Because of sea-level fluctuations with ice ages, Ireland has been isolated from Britain for a mere 8,000 years. The current distances vary from a mere 19km/12 miles between Scotland and Co. Antrim to about 100km/60 miles between Ireland and Wales (Pembrokeshire to Co. Wexford and Holyhead to Dublin). so only the most sedentary or least adventurous species have any to chance of diverging.

Coal Tit (Periparus ater hibernicus) (Irish) by IanThe first photo shows an adult bird, while the second one is a juvenile with drabber colours and juvenile Coal Tits tend to have yellower cheeks anyway. Incidentally, there are 21 subspecies of Coal Tit currently recognised, from the Irish one in the west to Taiwanese and Japanese ones in the east. Some authorities dispute the validity of these subspecies because of local variation.

Interestingly the birds in Northeastern Ireland show more in common with Scottish birds, and some would argue that Scottish Coal Tits are different from English ones. We could be getting onto politically thin ice here so, given the unifying spirit of St Patrick’s Day, I don’t think we’ll pursue this topic :-)

Happy St Patrick’s Day!
Ian

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Ian Montgomery, Birdway Pty Ltd,
454 Forestry Road, Bluewater, Qld 4818
Tel 0411 602 737 ian@birdway.com.au
Bird Photos http://www.birdway.com.au/
Recorder Society http://www.nqrs.org.au


Lee’s Addition:

It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.” (Matthew 13:32 ESV)

A pleasant surprise getting a St Patrick’s Day bird to enjoy. The Coal Tits belong to the Paridae – Tits, Chickadees Family. I am more familiar with the Chickadees, but it is easy to see the family resemblance.

The Coal Tit (Periparus ater) is a passerine bird in the tit family Paridae. It is a widespread and common resident breeder throughout temperate to subtropical Eurasia and northern Africa. The Black-crested Tit is now usually included in this species. (Wikipedia)

Here is a photo of the main Coal Tit species.

Coal Tit (Periparus ater) ©WikiC

Coal Tit (Periparus ater) ©WikiC

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