Moscow or black tit, Mohawk is one of the smallest birds that live in Russia. The weight of this bird is only 7-10 grams, the body length is about 12 centimeters. A very nimble, mobile bird that inhabits the coniferous forests of our country is sometimes found in forest plantations and parks. He doesn’t like to settle in settlements, but they can fly to the feeders in search of food. In winter they can live a whole flock in parks and squares.
Origin of view and description
Periparus ater Muscovite is a bird belonging to the order Passeriformes, family Titmouse, genus Periparus, species Muscovite. Moscow belongs to the oldest detachment of passerine birds. The first rabbit-like people inhabited our planet back in the time of the Eocene. In our time, the order of passerines is extremely numerous, it includes about 5400 species.
These birds are widespread throughout the world. The species Periparus ater in our region is represented by 3 subspecies, two of them are part of the phaeonotus subspecies group; these birds are distributed mainly in Turkey, the Middle East and the Caucasus. In the European part of our country, a subspecies of R. a. ater.
Muscovites are small modestly colored birds. Females and males have the same color, sometimes the color of males can be slightly brighter than that of females. On the face of the bird there is a kind of “mask” of a dark color because of which the birds got their name. The upper part of the head is painted in a blue-silver color with an olive tint, the bottom of the bird is light.
On the sides and under tail there are brown feathers. The color from the line of the eyes to the throat and the top of the breast is white. There are small black spots on the chest, sides and under the wings. The wings and tail of the bird has a brownish tint. Beak is small black. The head is round, the eyes are small, the iris of the eyes is dark. On the limbs, four fingers, at the ends of which are claws. This species was first described by the scientist Karl Linnaeus in his work System of Nature in 1758.
Appearance and features
Photo: What does Moscow look like
Muscovite is very similar to ordinary tits, but still Muscovites are slightly different from other members of this family. These creatures are considered the smallest birds in the tit family. The size of the bird from beak to tail is about 11 cm, and Muscovite weighs only 8-12 grams.
The beak is straight, small in size. The head is small, round in shape. A distinctive feature of these birds is their unusual color. White cheeks are highlighted on the muzzle of the bird. From the beak all over the head the color is dark. It seems as if a “mask” is put on the face of the bird, which is why the bird got its name.
While Muscovite is excited, she lifts feathers on her forehead in the form of a small crest. There is also a white spot on the top of the bird. The main colors are gray and brown. The feathers on the head are black with a silver-blue tint. Feathers are gray on the wings of Muscovites; there are drawings in the form of white stripes. The tail consists of a bunch of feathers.
Males and females are almost indistinguishable outwardly. The juveniles have a color similar to adult birds. A dark blue almost black hat with a brownish tint, on the cheeks in the back of the head where there should be white spots, the color is yellowish. The stripes on the wings also have a yellowish tint.
The trills of these birds are heard everywhere from mid-March to September. Muscovites singing quietly, a squeaky voice. A song consists of two or three complex phrases of the type: "tuiit", "pii-tii" or "CCC". Females and males sing together. The repertoire of one bird can have up to 70 songs. Tits are sometimes used to teach canary singing. In the wild, mosses live about 8-9 years.
An interesting fact: Muscovites have excellent memory, they can remember places where food is located, people who feed birds, and most importantly, after a long time in unfamiliar places, these birds can find their nest and places where they hid food.
Now you know what the Muscovite bird looks like. Let’s see where the black tit is found.
Where does Muscovite live?
Photo: Muscovite bird
Muscovites inhabit the forests of Eurasia, North Africa. Also found in the Atlas Mountains, in Africa and Tunisia. In the northern part of Eurasia, these birds can be found in Finland and in the Russian north, in Siberia. These birds in large numbers inhabit the Kaluga, Tula, Ryazan region, live in the Urals and in the northern part of Mongolia. And also these birds inhabit Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, the Caucasus, Iran, Crimea and Transcaucasia. Sometimes mosquitoes can be found on the island of Sicily, the British Isles, Cyprus, Honshu, Taiwan, and the Kuril Islands.
Muscovite settles mainly in spruce forests. Sometimes a mixed forest can choose for life. If living in mountainous areas, nest on wooded slopes where pines and oaks grow. It rarely settles at an altitude above 2000 meters above sea level, however, in the Himalayas, these birds are seen at an altitude of about 4,500 m. Muscovites never sit still and can explore new areas in search of food.
In places with a mild climate in the Caucasus and southern Russia, birds lead a sedentary lifestyle. And also these birds often remain for the winter, and in central Russia they move to parks and squares. Muscovites nest in the forest. These birds usually do not make seasonal migrations, however, in the absence of food or during a harsh winter, birds can make flock flights exploring new territories.
Usual places are usually used for nesting, in rare cases they nest in new territories. The nest is located in a hollow or other natural cavity. Sometimes they can settle in an abandoned hole of small rodents. Due to the abundance of enemies in the wild, and the inability to lengthy flights, Muscovites try to stay near trees and shrubs.
What does Muscovite eat?
Photo: Moscow in Russia
Muscovite in food is very unpretentious. The diet of the bird depends on the area in which the bird lives and the time of year. In spring and summer, birds eat insects and plant foods more; since mid-summer, birds switch to plant foods. In the winter season, Muscovites are content with seeds, rowan berries and the fact that the bird is stocked in the summer for the winter.
The main diet of Muscovites includes:
- flies and mosquitoes;
- grasshoppers, crickets;
- coniferous seeds;
- berries of mountain ash, juniper;
- seeds of beech, sequoia, sycamore and other plants.
This bird likes to enjoy juicy fruits of ripe fruits, nuts. Muscovites can perfectly climb tree branches to get their own food.
An interesting fact: Muscovites are very thrifty, and in the wild, these birds work hard in the summertime making reserves for the winter. The bird makes a kind of "pantry" under the bark of trees, where it hides its reserves protecting them from snow. Often these bird stocks last for the whole winter.
Birds that live near a person’s house fly to the feeders and peck bread crumbs, nuts, seeds. Although these birds are afraid of people, they quickly get used to those who feed them, remember the place where the feeder is, and fly back again.
Features of character and lifestyle
Photo: Moskovka, she's a black tit
Muscovites, like many tits, are very mobile. They constantly move between trees, crawl along branches in search of food. They lead a settled lifestyle, they do not like migrations and leave their usual habitats only in cases of lack of food, or very bad weather conditions. For nesting birds love to return to their usual places.
Muscovites live in small flocks of 50-60 individuals, however, in Siberia and the conditions of the North, there were flocks in which there were up to a thousand individuals. The flocks are usually mixed, the Muscovites get along well with the scum, crested titmouse, kings and pikas. During the nesting period, birds are divided into pairs and make nests inhabiting a large area.
Tits are very good family men, they form couples for almost their entire lives, take care of their offspring for a long time. The nature of the birds is calm, the birds coexist peacefully within the flock, usually there are no conflicts. Wild birds are afraid of people, and try not to approach people, however, in the winter, harsh weather conditions force the birds to move to cities and towns.
Birds quickly get used to people. If Muscovite is held in captivity, this bird gets used to a person very quickly. After a week, the bird can start pecking seeds from the owner’s hands, and over time, the bird can become completely manual. Tits are very trusting, easily get used to people.
Social structure and reproduction
Photo: Tit Muscovite
The mating season at Muscovites begins at the end of March. During this period, males begin to attract females with loud singing, which is heard everywhere. And they also inform other males about where their territory is, indicating its borders. In addition to singing, males show their willingness to create a family soaring beautifully in the air.
During the mating dance, the male fluffs his tail and wings, while continuing to sing loudly. The choice of a place for the nest is the male’s business, but the female arranges the dwelling. The female makes a nest inside a narrow hollow, in a crevice of a rock or in an abandoned burrow of rodents. To build a nest, soft moss, feathers, shreds of animal hair are used.
An interesting fact: Females are very protective of their cubs; during hatching, the female does not leave the nest for about two weeks.
In one summer, Muscovites have time to make two masonry. The first clutch consists of 5-12 eggs and forms in mid-April. The second clutch is formed in June and consists of 6-8 eggs. Muscovites eggs are white with brown dots. Egg incubation lasts about two weeks. In this case, the female incubates the eggs almost without getting up from the masonry, and the male protects the family and obtains food for the female.
Little chicks are born covered in soft, gray fluff. The male brings the chicks food, and the mother warms them and feeds them for another 4 days, and later begins to get food for the cubs along with the male leaving the chicks in the nest. Chicks begin to fly away from the nest at the age of 22 days, while learning to fly, juveniles can spend the night in the nest for some more time, later young chicks fly away from the nest, straying in flocks with other birds.
Natural enemies of Muscovites
Photo: What does Moscow look like
These little birds have a lot of natural enemies.
- birds of prey such as falcon, kite, hawk, eagle, owls and eagle owls;
- foxes and other predators.
Predators prey on both adults and ruin their nests by eating eggs and chicks, so these little birds try to stick together in flocks. Often, predators become prey by fledglings, who are just starting to learn how to fly the way they are most vulnerable. Muscovites do not like to appear in open areas, preferring to hide in trees and bushes. There they feel safe.
Rodents, hedgehogs, martens, foxes and cats will destroy the nests of birds, so birds try to build nests in places inaccessible to these predators. They choose hollows, crevices with a narrow entrance so that predators do not climb into them.
Muscovites in the majority die not from the clutches of predators, but from the harsh environmental conditions. Birds do not tolerate cold, in winter wild birds often die of hunger without finding food, especially during snowy winters, when their stocks are swept by snow. To survive the winter, birds flock to cities in small flocks. People can save a lot of these cute birds by simply hanging a feeder on a tree and bringing some grain and bread crumbs there.
Population and species status
To date, the species Periparus ater has the status of the species causing the least concern. The population of this bird species is most numerous. The birds densely inhabit the forests of Eurasia and North Africa. It is extremely difficult to track the population of these birds, as the birds stay in mixed packs and can fly, exploring new areas. Since Muscovites like to settle in spruce and mixed forests in many areas of our country, the population of this species decreases due to deforestation.
For example, in the Moscow region, the population of these birds has decreased significantly. Moskovka is listed in the Red Book of Moscow and the species is assigned the 2nd category a rare species in Moscow with a declining population. Only about 10-12 pairs nest in Moscow. Perhaps the birds simply do not like the noise of the big city, and for life they choose quieter areas.
In connection with the decrease in the population of these birds in Moscow and the region, measures have been taken to protect birds:
- Famous bird nesting sites are located in specially protected areas;
- parks and green areas in the territory of the megalopolis are arranged;
- Ornithologists monitor the population of these birds in Moscow and create comfortable conditions for their life.
In the whole country, the species is numerous, birds feel good in nature and quickly breed in a species that does not need special protection.
Moscow very useful bird. These birds are real orderlies in the forest, which destroy beetles and insects that damage plants and are carriers of various diseases. Birds treat people well, and in winter they can fly to cities in search of food. It is in our power to make these birds live comfortably next to us. They just need to be fed at a time when in the natural environment birds have nothing to feed.