coal-titmouse defined in 1930 yearcoal-titmouse - Coal-Titmouse;
coal-titmouse - Crown, throat, and front of the neck black; cheeks and nape pure white; upper parts grey; wings bluish grey, with two white bands; under parts white tinged with grey. Length, four and a quarter inches.
The coal-tit of our country (P. britannicus) differs slightly from the continental form (P. ater), the British bird having the slate- grey of the upper parts suffused with brown or olive, while in the continental form the brown tinge is confined to the rump. The European coal-tit visits our islands on migration, and doubtless interbreeds with our bird, as intermediate varieties are found.
The coal-tit, or coalmouse, like the oxeye and the blue lit, is generally diffused throughout the British Islands, and is not uncommon, although nowhere abundant. In Scotland it is more local in its distribution, being found chiefly in districts abounding in pine and fir woods. It is believed to be increasing in numbers and extending its range in this country. In its social habits, its flight, and its manner of seeking its food - during which it clings to the smaller boughs and twigs in a variety of positions - it closely resembles the other members of its genus. It also resembles them In its language, although a shriller note may be detected in its voice, both in its call-note and song. It differs from other tits in its greater activity, in preferring conifers to other trees, in going more often to the ground to feed, and in being a greater wanderer out of the breeding season.
The nest, as a rule, is placed near the ground, in a hole in a rotten tree-stump, or in a wall, or any other suitable place. It is composed of moss, hair, and feathers, felted together, and lined with more feathers. Six to eight eggs are laid, like those of the great tit in colour. Like the oxeye, it is omnivorous, but in summer it feeds principally on insects.
After the breeding season the old and young birds keep together, and several families may unite and form a flock. One of the most interesting winter sights in a wood composed of pine and fir growing together with beech and other deciduous trees is afforded by a wandering flock of coal-tits. As they move from tree to tree they attract other species of similar habits - the oxeye and blue and marsh tits, and goldcrests, and siskins, and perhaps a couple of tree-creepers. Occasionally a party of long-tailed tits will join, and keep with the flock for some time; but the long-tails are the most restless and vagrant of all, and eventually hurry on by themselves, leaving the more patient plodders behind. It is wonderful and very beautiful to see so many species thus drawn into companionship by a common social instinct, and by a similar manner of seeking their food; a mental likeness serves to keep them together for hours at a time, or for a whole day, in spite of so great a diversity in form and colour and language.
near coal-titmouse in Knolik
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