The family Sittidae is closely related to the family . This taxon includes the nuthatches. Remizidae is also a close relative of . There are many subspecies within each genera of the family . The genus Poecile was originally classified as a subgenus under the genus Parus. The genus Poecile is more closely related to the genus Baeolophus than it is to the genus Parus. (Gill, et al., 2005; "ITIS", 2020; Johansson, et al., 2018; Sibley, 2014; Slikas, et al., 1996)has been consistent in the literature since Vigors named it in 1825. Sylviparus was originally classified as a genus within the family , but its place within the family has been debated. Based on molecular data from the cytochrome b gene, Sylviparus and Melanochlora are in a monophyletic group within . The family
Chickadees, tits and titmice are extremely vocal. In the spring, these vocalizations are often used to attract a mate. Species within (Otter, 2007)are monogamous, but females will leave their male partner for a higher ranking male in the next season if that male's mate has died. Plumage does not attract females in the Genus Poecile, but the plumage coloration does affect mating success in Cyanistes and Parus. Species within hybridize frequently. Males who transpose other male songs onto their own often attract more females. Photoperiod is a trigger for stimulating the production of hormones within the gonads of species. As the daylight time lengthens, these hormones increase. These birds mate in the spring. Males are dominant over females in most cases. The most dominant male and female tend to become breeding partners. Males who sing longer and at a higher pitch often have higher fitness measures. Females of the family will often participate in extrapair copulation to increase the fitness of their clutch. They will only mate with a higher ranking male with better territory if this extrapair copulation occurs.
Chickadees, tits and titmice usually breed in the spring. Like most birds, females have one ovary to reduce their weight for flight. Chickadees have an average clutch size of 6.8 with 92% hatching success. Baeolophus bicolor can have a clutch of between 3-9 eggs with an incubation period of 12-14 days. (Cornell University, 2019; Lovette and Fitzpatrick, 2017; Otter, 2007)
In a mating pair of individuals in the family (Otter, 2007), both the male and the female provide food for nestlings. Clutch size among species of birds can differ quite greatly. The Great Tit can lay its weight in eggs while blue tits have remarkably smaller clutch sizes. Dominant pairs often incubate their eggs for longer and feed them less often. This leads to higher survival of fledglings. Many of the species within are cavity nesters. Some species can excavate their own cavities, but they often rely on other species to excavate a hole in the tree for them to nest in. They use trees with smaller diameter and high decay to nest in.
Chickadees, Tits, and Titmice are small birds with high metabolic rates. Their high metabolic rates are responsible for their short lifespans. For the genus Poecile, the average lifespan is about 2 years, but they can live up to 10 years. (Prinzinger, 1993; Schubert, et al., 2008)
Chickadees, Tits, and Titmice are extremely social. They not only interact with birds of their own species, they also form interspecies foraging groups. Many different birds will respond to a Black-capped Chickadee's mobbing calls. These birds are extremely territorial. They form social hierarchies. Older males are often the most dominant. Males will often participate in vocal duels during the time of breeding and territory establishment. Birds in the family (Hurd, 1996; Otter, 2007; Sibley, 2014)fly for short distances in a bounding fashion. They cannot maintain this flight for very long. They are an arboreal species. They do not spend very much time on the ground, where they would be more vulnerable to predation. Many of these birds are well known for food caching. They have an extremely good spatial memory.
Chickadees, tits and titmice are very vocal. They have an open-ended language. Longer alarm calls correlate to smaller predators. Shorter alarm calls correlate to larger predators in the area. They can transpose other bird songs with theirs. They have many different types of calls. In Poecile, the gargle and chicka-dee-dee calls are considered to be social calls. The Fee-bees function as the song of the chickadee. They do not vary the notes of this song. Instead they vary the frequency. Females often prefer males with higher pitched songs that last for longer durations. Poecile atricapillus individuals are able to recognize when animals that are not even avian species are upset. This helps them to be better at predator avoidance. They had the same level of recognition of other species in distress as humans. (Cogdon, et al., 2019; Ficken, et al., 1978; Kalb and Randler, 2019; Otter, 2007)
Chickadees, tits and titmice are omnivorous. They consume insects and seeds. The relative amounts of insects versus seeds that are consumed varies seasonally. Their diet consists of about 50% animal matter in the winter and changes to about 90% animal matter in the spring. Chickadees, tits and titmice within the family (Hajdasz, et al., 2019; Smulders, et al., 1994; Thirakhupt, 1985)hoard food, starting in the fall to late winter. Their brains have evolved to allow for intricate spatial memory. The hippocampus is enlarged. Caterpillars are a highly proteinaceous food resource to Parus major. Feeding their nestlings caterpillars increases fledgling success.
Chickadees, tits and titmice are prey to numerous species of arboreal animals. Tufted Titmice and Black-Capped Chickadees will let out high pitched "zee" calls when a predator is near. They cease all activity while that predator is in the area. Once the predator has passed, chickadees will resume their "chicka-dee" calls. These birds often form interspecific foraging groups with nuthatches and woodpeckers along with individuals of their own species. They are also aided by other birds such as the Grey Catbird when they elicit mobbing calls. They can recognize the distress calls of these other birds. They warn each other of predators while increasing their time foraging. These birds can encode information about the threat level of the predator and the size of the predator within their calls. They can also differ their calls by the urgency of predator avoidance. (Cogdon, et al., 2019; Ficken and Witkin, 1997; Freeberg, et al., 2015; Hurd, 1996; Kalb and Randler, 2019)
Chickadees, tits and titmice are seed dispersers. Some of the seeds that they cache will not be found and eaten. These seeds are left to flourish. These birds also participate in mutualistic behavior in interspecific feeding groups. They warn these birds when predators are in the area. Many birds respond to the mobbing calls of these birds. They also feed on insects and arachnids. They aid in population control of these animals. (Cogdon, et al., 2019; Hajdasz, et al., 2019; Hurd, 1996; Kalb and Randler, 2019; Otter, 2007; Stankovic, et al., 2019)
Chickadees, Tits, and Titmice are model organisms for research. They are charismatic and easy to catch. They are easily attracted to bird feeders. They can often be an indicator of the health of the environment. People also enjoy watching these birds at their bird feeders. Because their diet includes insects, they limit pest species in a small degree. (Otter, 2007; Perrier, et al., 2018)
While birds in the family (Stankovic, et al., 2019)are carriers of avian malaria, this is not a zoonotic form of the disease. This group does not have any negative effects on humans.
Most of the birds within (International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, 2020; Perrier, et al., 2018)are of least concern. There are no species from the family on the IUCN red list. They are very common. These birds have thrived in new urban settings.
Chickadees in the genus Poecile undergo nocturnal hypothermia. They reduce their metabolic rate so that they are not using as much energy to warm themselves. This allows them to survive extreme cold conditions. Parus major has another adaptation to harsh conditions in winter. When protein is scarce, these birds will attack hibernating bats and eat their brains. (Cooper and Swanson, 1994; McCullough, 2018)
Aisling Kyne (author), Colorado State University.
living in the Nearctic biogeographic province, the northern part of the New World. This includes Greenland, the Canadian Arctic islands, and all of the North American as far south as the highlands of central Mexico.
living in the northern part of the Old World. In otherwords, Europe and Asia and northern Africa.
uses sound to communicate
young are born in a relatively underdeveloped state; they are unable to feed or care for themselves or locomote independently for a period of time after birth/hatching. In birds, naked and helpless after hatching.
Referring to an animal that lives in trees; tree-climbing.
having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.
an animal that mainly eats meat
uses smells or other chemicals to communicate
having a worldwide distribution. Found on all continents (except maybe Antarctica) and in all biogeographic provinces; or in all the major oceans (Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific.
ranking system or pecking order among members of a long-term social group, where dominance status affects access to resources or mates
animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.
parental care is carried out by females
union of egg and spermatozoan
forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.
an animal that mainly eats seeds
An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.
An animal that eats mainly insects or spiders.
fertilization takes place within the female's body
offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).
parental care is carried out by males
Having one mate at a time.
having the capacity to move from one place to another.
the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.
an animal that mainly eats all kinds of things, including plants and animals
found in the oriental region of the world. In other words, India and southeast Asia.
reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.
breeding is confined to a particular season
remains in the same area
reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female
associates with others of its species; forms social groups.
mature spermatozoa are stored by females following copulation. Male sperm storage also occurs, as sperm are retained in the male epididymes (in mammals) for a period that can, in some cases, extend over several weeks or more, but here we use the term to refer only to sperm storage by females.
places a food item in a special place to be eaten later. Also called "hoarding"
living in residential areas on the outskirts of large cities or towns.
uses touch to communicate
that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).
defends an area within the home range, occupied by a single animals or group of animals of the same species and held through overt defense, display, or advertisement
living in cities and large towns, landscapes dominated by human structures and activity.
uses sight to communicate
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