Family Tits and Chickadees (Paridae)

Least Concern

Ashy Tit (Melaniparus cinerascens)


Taxonomy

French: Mésange cendrée German: Akazienrußmeise Spanish: Carbonero cinéreo
Taxonomy:

Parus cinerascens

Vieillot

, 1818,

Pelladrift, northern Cape Province, South Africa

.

Has been considered conspecific with any or all of M. thruppi, M. griseiventris and M. afer; see M. leuconotus. Birds from SE Zimbabwe and N South Africa (E Limpopo S to Free State), previously separated as race orphnus on basis of purer white face and nuchal patch, and greyer upperparts, now considered doubtfully distinct from nominate. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • M. c. benguelae (B. P. Hall & Traylor, 1959) – SW Angola, possibly also extreme NW Namibia.
  • M. c. cinerascens (Vieillot, 1818) – Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and N South Africa (S to N Northern Cape, Free State and Mpumalanga).
  • Descriptive notes

    14·5–15 cm; 18·5–21·7 g. Large, grey tit with black-and-white head pattern and black breast. Male nominate race has forehead to crown and... read more

    Voice

    Calls include a thin and fairly sibilant “si-si-si” or a longer and more complex series... read more

    Habitat

    Mainly dry acacia (Acacia) savanna, particularly camel thorn (Acacia erioloba),... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diet includes small invertebrates, principally beetles (Coleoptera), moths (Lepidoptera), spiders (Araneae), ants (Hymenoptera), flies (... read more

    Breeding

    Season Sept–Apr. Monogamous; possibly a co-operative breeder, several adults attending breeding female and young at some sites.... read more

    Movements

    Resident, but locally nomadic. May wander in non-breeding season into areas of brachystegia... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Common to fairly common or locally common. Density of 1 pair/50 ha of acacia thornveld in N South Africa.

    Recommended citation

    Gosler, A. & Clement, P. (2020). Ashy Tit (Melaniparus cinerascens). 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 https://www.hbw.com/node/59898 on 20 February 2020).