Family Long-tailed Tits (Aegithalidae)

Least Concern

Long-tailed Tit (Aegithalos caudatus)


French: Orite à longue queue German: Schwanzmeise Spanish: Mito común

Parus caudatus


, 1758,



Often treated as conspecific with A. glaucogularis, but plumage distinctive, and no reports of regular intergradation or hybridization with latter species in NE China (apparent “intergrades” recorded as migrants in coastal Hebei, but origin and status of these unknown). Marked geographical variation, although the two main vocalizations almost identical throughout range#R. Races fall into four groups: “caudatus group” in N Europe and Asia, “europaeus group” in S & W Europe, “alpinus group” in Mediterranean Europe and SW Asia, and “trivirgatus group” in S Korea and Japan (“europaeus group” and “trivirgatus group” are morphologically similar and usually combined, but marked geographical separation strongly suggests different origins). Where groups meet there are extensive areas occupied by variable populations of apparent hybrids; these areas of hybridization considered zones of secondary intergradation (where populations have met relatively recently). Nominate race intergrades with europaeus in Denmark, E Germany, S Poland, S Ukraine and N Romania, and with magnus in Korea; aremoricus intergrades with taiti in WC France; taiti intergrades with irbii in C Spain and Portugal; and europeaus intergrades with aremoricus in W France, with taiti in SW France, with italiae on S slopes of Alps, and with macedonicus in S of former Yugoslavia and S Bulgaria. Birds of this species breeding in Iraq and Syria of uncertain racial identity, provisionally included in tephronotus. Other proposed races are sibiricus (C Siberia), kamtschaticus (Kamchatka, in E Russia) and japonicus (N Japan), all poorly differentiated and thus synonymized with nominate; and pallidolumbo (Shikoku, in S Japan) and tarihoae (Jeju I, off S Korea), both merged with trivirgatus. Seventeen subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • A. c. caudatus (Linnaeus, 1758) – Northern Long-tailed Tit – Fennoscandia (N to c. 70° N in Norway, locally to 66° N in Finland) and NE Europe (Poland) E in broad band through Siberia to E Russia (Kamchatka), Sakhalin, S Kuril Is and N Japan (Hokkaido, Rebun-to and Rishiri-to), extending S to N Kazakhstan, N Mongolia, NE China and N Korea (S to 40–41° N); non-breeding also S to E China (NE Hebei, Beijing) and C Japan (SC Honshu).
  • A. c. rosaceus Mathews, 1938 – Britain and Ireland.
  • A. c. aremoricus Whistler, 1929 – NW France (E to Centre, S to Poitou area), Î d’Yeu and Channel Is.
  • A. c. taiti C. Ingram, 1913 – SW & S France (including Î d’Oléron) S to C Iberian Peninsula (S to Tagus Valley), also Mallorca.
  • A. c. europaeus (Hermann, 1804) – Western Long-tailed Tit – NE France N to Denmark, E to Germany, S to N Italy, Serbia, W & S Romania (intergrading with nominate race in Moldova), Bulgaria and NW Turkey (N Thrace).
  • A. c. macedonicus (Salvadori#R & Dresser, 1892) – Albania, Macedonia, mainland Greece, S Bulgaria and NW Turkey (SW Thrace).
  • A. c. tauricus (Menzbier, 1903) – S Crimea.
  • A. c. irbii (Sharpe & Dresser, 1871) – S Iberian Peninsula (S of Tagus Valley) and Corsica.
  • A. c. italiae Jourdain, 1910 – mainland Italy and SW Slovenia.
  • A. c. siculus (Whitaker, 1901) – Sicily.
  • A. c. tephronotus (Günther, 1865) – Lesbos and Samos (E Greece), W & C Turkey (including extreme E Thrace), also NW Syria and extreme N Iraq.
  • A. c. major (Radde, 1884) – Caucasus (from N foothills of Great Caucasus), NE Turkey (E at least from Sebinkarahisar), Georgia, Armenia and N & C Azerbaijan.
  • A. c. alpinus (Hablizl, 1783) – Southern Long-tailed Tit – SE Azerbaijan (Talis Mts and Lenkoran lowlands), N Iran (E through Elburz and S Caspian districts to about Gorgan) and SW Turkmenistan (Kopet Dag).
  • A. c. passekii (Zarudny, 1904) – extreme SE Turkey and W Iran (Zagros Mts S to Fars).
  • A. c. magnus (A. H. Clark, 1907) – C & S Korea and Tsushima I.
  • A. c. trivirgatus (Temminck & Schlegel, 1848) – Eastern Long-tailed Tit – C Japan (Honshu, Awa-shima, Sado and Oki) and Jeju I (off S Korea).
  • A. c. kiusiuensis Nagamichi Kuroda, 1923 – S Japan (Shikoku, Kyushu and Yakushima).
  • Descriptive notes

    13–16 cm, of which tail 6–10 cm; 6·2–10·4 g (europaeus). A tiny, round-bodied passerine with short stubby bill and very long, narrow... read more


    Very vocal. Usual contact calls a high-pitched, pure, quiet but penetrating “see-see-see... read more


    Deciduous and mixed woodland with well-developed shrub layer, especially willows (Salix),... read more

    Food and feeding

    Food throughout year largely invertebrates; occasionally also seeds, buds and even olives (Olea) and peanuts taken, especially in... read more


    Season mid-Mar to Jun in Europe and Japan (very exceptionally, fledged young recorded early Feb in England), from Mar onwards in Iran, and... read more


    Resident in temperate and Mediterranean regions, but partially migratory farther N. Birds from N... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Common to fairly common in W Europe and in Korea and Japan, but scarcer towards edge of range in N Scotland and W Ireland and more... read more

    Recommended citation

    Harrap, S. (2020). Long-tailed Tit (Aegithalos caudatus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 22 February 2020).