Family Tits and Chickadees (Paridae)

Least Concern

Azure Tit (Cyanistes cyanus)


Taxonomy

French: Mésange azurée German: Lasurmeise Spanish: Herrerillo azul
Taxonomy:

Parus cyanus

Pallas

, 1770,

River Volga, Russia

.

Hybridizes with C. caeruleus, mainly following years when it expands W in periodic irruptions (hybrids described as a separate taxon, “pleskii”). SC Asian races carruthersi, flavipectus and berezowskii frequently considered to be a separate species, and flavipectus hybridizes to limited degree with race tianschanicus where ranges meet in S Kyrgyzstan; but little genetic or acoustic differentiation involved#R. In addition, geographical variation slight and mostly clinal; in particular, race yenisseensis intergrades with both tianschanicus and hyperrhiphaeus. Eight subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. c. cyanus (Pallas, 1770) – Azure Tit – SC Belarus and W & C European Russia E to C Urals.
  • C. c. hyperrhiphaeus Dementiev & Heptner, 1932 – SW Urals, SW Siberia and N Kazakhstan.
  • C. c. yenisseensis (Buturlin, 1911) – SC Siberia, Altai Mts and N Mongolia E to NE China (Inner Mongolia, Heliongjiang) and Russian Far East.
  • C. c. tianschanicus Menzbier, 1884 – mountains of SE Kazakhstan and adjacent Kyrgyzstan (C & E Tien Shan) E to NW China (N & W Xinjiang).
  • C. c. koktalensis Portenko, 1954 – lowlands of SE Kazakhstan.
  • C. c. carruthersi (E. J. O. Hartert, 1917) – Kyrgyzstan and N Tajikistan (Alai Mts and W Pamirs).
  • C. c. flavipectus (Severtsov, 1873) – Yellow-breasted Tit – S Kyrgyzstan (E Alai Range and W Tien Shan) S to N Afghanistan.
  • C. c. berezowskii Pleske, 1893 – NE Qinghai, in NC China.
  • Descriptive notes

    13–14 cm; 10·6–16 g. Medium-sized to large, short-billed and fairly long-tailed tit with fluffy plumage. Nominate race has entire head almost white or... read more

    Voice

    Very similar to C. caeruleus. Calls include soft and often slurred “tirr” or... read more

    Habitat

    In lowlands a wide variety of forested habitats, including light deciduous and mixed woodlands with... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diet comprises small invertebrates, eggs and larvae of bugs (Hemiptera), including aphids (Aphidoidea), also of moths (Lepidoptera),... read more

    Breeding

    Season Apr–Jun. Monogamous; territorial. Pair formation in late winter; display by male includes slow gliding flight from branch to... read more

    Movements

    Largely resident, but montane populations descend to lower levels in autumn and winter; also... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Locally common to uncommon. In some areas, e.g. C Russia, very common, but generally uncommon along W edge of range (W of R Volga) and in China (... read more

    Recommended citation

    Gosler, A. & Clement, P. (2018). Azure Tit (Cyanistes cyanus). 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/59911 on 10 December 2018).