Varied Tit (Poecile varia) - wiki
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[Photo] Varied Tit (Poecile varia). Author Flickr user arudhio http://www.flickr.com/photos/arudhio/
The Varied Tit (Poecile varia; see also below) is a perching bird from the tit family, Paridae. It occurs in East Asia and notably on some islands south of Japan where it has formed a number of subspecies.
It can reach a size between eleven and fourteen centimetres depending on the subspecies. The wing length is 6.0 to 7.8 centimetres. At the nominate race P. v. varia the crown, the bill, the throat, the upper breast and the nape are black. Forehead, face, and cheeks are white. Back, wings, and tail are bluish grey. Mantle, lower breast, belly and undertail coverts are chestnut coloured. From the crown to the nape runs a thin white central line. Other subspecies have a darker hue at the back and at the cheeks, P. v. owstoni has chestnut coloured cheeks and the mantle of P. v. olivacea has an olive tone. The feet are dark cyan.
Its habitat consists of open mixed forests, in particular with the Japanese castanopsis species Castanopsis cuspidata and Japanese Larch, coniferous forests with Japanese yews, Japanese cedars, and pines as well as bamboo forests at mountain slopes and in river valleys.
The Varied Tit eats a mixed diet consisting of seeds and insects, namely caterpillars.
Its call consists of tiny tones which sounds like tzu….tzu….tzu…
Together with the White-fronted Tit, this species was sometimes separated in the genus. Sittiparus. Alternatively, it was placed in the blue tit group Cyanistes. In recent times, these have been considered subgenera of Parus, with the Varied Tit being placed in Sittiparus rather than Cyanistes.
However, mtDNA cytochrome b sequence data indicates that Cyanistes is very distinct from other titmice and certainly a separate genus, while Sittiparus is not a distinct genus but might be considered a subgenus of Poecile, the chickadee group, if these are separated as a distinct genus (which is supported by the data and accepted by some authorities already, such as the American Ornithologists' Union).
In Poecile, this species forms part of a group of apparently rather basal species, the relationships of which are ill-defined. They also include the Sombre Tit, probably the White-fronted Tit, and possibly the White-browed and Caspian Tits (Gill et al., 2005).
A considerable number of subspecies has been described; 9 are today usually considered valid, of which one has gone extinct in the 20th century:
Parus varia varia (Temminck & Schlegel, 1848) - Occurrence: southern Kuriles (Kunashir, Shikotan, Iturup), north-eastern China, central and southern Korea, Japan
Parus varia owstoni (Ijima, 1893) - Occurrence: Izu Islands, Miyakojima, Mikurajima and Hachijojima
Parus varia namiyei (Kuroda, 1918) - Occurrence: Toshima Island, Niijima and Kozu-Shima
Parus varia sunsunpi (Kuroda, 1919) - Occurrence: Tanegashima
Parus varia yakushimensis (Kuroda, 1919) - Occurrence: Yakushima
Parus varia amamii (Kuroda, 1922) - Occurrence: Amami ??shima, Tokunoshima and Okinawa Island
Parus varia olivacea (Kuroda, 1923) - Iriomote and Ishigakijima
Daito Varied Tit Parus varius orii (Kuroda, 1923) - Occurrence: formerly Dait?? Islands (Kita Dait??jima and Minami Dait??jima) - extinct (c.1940)
Parus varia castaneoventris (Harrap, 1996) - Occurrence: Taiwan
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