Crested Tit

Lophophanes cristatus

11.5cm

Appearance

The Crested Tit is brownish above and whitish-buff underneath. It has a distinct crest with black-and-white barring, a whitish-grey face with a black line through the eye, a black throat and collar, and a thin, short bill. Juveniles appear similar to adults, but the markings are not yet as obvious.

Habitat

The Crested Tit lives in Scots pine or in very old Caledonian pine forests; may occasionally be found in different conifers and perhaps in rowan, alder and birch during colder months. It uses older trees, and often the upright stumps of dead trees, to breed.

Character

This is an agile bird that is never still for long; it may dangle from branches as it searches for food. Travels with other tits and some other species, but rarely goes beyond feeding areas.

Food

Usually feeds in taller trees during the summer, particularly pines. Diet includes moths, caterpillars, aphids, beetles and spiders. Eats more seeds during winter.

Breeding

Female lays between 4 and 6 eggs which she incubates for 13-16 days. Both adults feed the young, which depart the next at about 18-22 days old; they remain reliant on their parents for a further 23 days, then gain independence and begin the search for a winter partner.

Population

The Crested Tit won’t often stray far from breeding areas; there are approximately 1000 - 2000 pairs in the region, all of which are found in Scotland.

Observation Tips

An observer must go to specifically the right area to see this bird, that is in old Caledonian pine forests and mature and open Scots Pine plantations in the Scottish highlands. The birds prefer to feed near the canopy, but if patient, an observer might spy them as they feed on lower branches and sometimes even the ground. The Crested Tit requires upright, decaying tree trunks in which to breed, so sightings of such things may give a clue to the bird’s presence. Location is best done through listening for its call.

Voice

Has a sharp, trilling call that is regularly heard in a pattern, and the fast-paced song is a conglomeration of different calls.
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