Family Tits and Chickadees (Paridae)

Least Concern

Coal Tit (Periparus ater)


Taxonomy

French: Mésange noire German: Tannenmeise Spanish: Carbonero garrapinos
Taxonomy:

Parus ater

Linnaeus

, 1758,

Sweden

.

Distinctive race melanolophus often treated as separate species, differing from all other races by its dark grey belly (3), chestnut flanks (2) and cinnamon vs buff vent (1), but molecular evidence, voice and behaviour indicate it is conspecific#R#R#R; further study warranted. Species has hybridized with Poecile montanus, Lophophanes cristatus and Parus major. Geographical, local and individual variation all marked, but races intergrade in parts of range. Race pinicolus (Scotland) synonymized with britannicus; abietum (W & C mainland Europe), rossosibiricus (W Siberia) and amurensis (Amurland) merged with nominate, though sometimes considered valid#R; and gaddi (SE Azerbaijan and N Iran) and chorassanicus (Turkmenistan and NE Iran) included in phaeonotus#R. Further revision of races in W Asia perhaps necessary#R. Twenty-one subspecies recognized.

What do (1) and (2) mean? Learn more about the scoring system.
Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. a. britannicus (Sharpe & Dresser, 1871) – British Coal Tit – Great Britain and extreme NE Ireland.
  • P. a. hibernicus (W. Ingram#R, 1910) – Ireland.
  • P. a. ater (Linnaeus, 1758) – Eurasian Coal Tit – N, C & E Europe, W & S Asia Minor, NE Syria and Lebanon, and Siberia E to Kamchatka (including Sakhalin and Kuril Is), and S to Altai, N Mongolia, NE China (E to E Liaoning) and Korea.
  • P. a. pekinensis (J. P. Verreaux, 1868) – #RE China (S Liaoning S to N Shanxi, Hebei and Shandong).
  • P. a. insularis (Hellmayr, 1902) – S Kuril Is and Japan.
  • P. a. vieirae (Nicholson, 1906) – Iberian Peninsula.
  • P. a. sardus (O. Kleinschmidt, 1903) – Corsica and Sardinia.
  • P. a. atlas (Meade-Waldo, 1901) – Morocco.
  • P. a. ledouci (Malherbe, 1845) – Maghreb Coal Tit – N Algeria and NW Tunisia.
  • P. a. cypriotes (Guillemard#R, 1888) – Cyprus Coal Tit#RCyprus.
  • P. a. moltchanovi (Menzbier, 1903) – S Crimea.
  • P. a. derjugini Zarudny & Loudon, 1903 – SW Caucasus S to NE Turkey.
  • P. a. michalowskii (Bogdanov, 1879) – Caucasus (except SW) and C & E Transcaucasia.
  • P. a. phaeonotus (Blanford, 1873) – Caucasus Coal Tit – SE Azerbaijan, N Iran and SW Turkmenistan; perhaps only winter visitor to Zagros Mts (SW Iran), where no records since early 20th century#R.
  • P. a. rufipectus (Severtsov, 1873) – C & E Tien Shan from extreme SE Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan E to extreme NW China (W Xinjiang).
  • P. a. eckodedicatus (Martens et al., 2006) – C China (NW Yunnan, Sichuan and Gansu).
  • P. a. aemodius (Blyth, 1845) – Himalayan Coal Tit – E Himalayas (from C Nepal), C China (S Shaanxi S to S Xizang) and N & E Myanmar.
  • P. a. martensi (Eck, 1998) – Kali Gandaki Valley, in C Nepal.
  • P. a. melanolophus Vigors, 1831 – Spot-winged Tit – E Afghanistan, NW Pakistan and Himalayas E to WC Nepal.
  • P. a. kuatunensis (La Touche, 1923) – SE China (S Anhui S to NW Fujian).
  • P. a. ptilosus (Ogilvie-Grant, 1912) – Chinese Coal Tit – Taiwan.
  • Descriptive notes

    10–12 cm; 7·2–12 g. Small, slim-billed, black-crowned tit (some races crested) with greyish upperparts and two wingbars. Male nominate race has forehead to... read more

    Voice

    Calls include distinctive, mellow or plaintive “pui” or “tsuee” and... read more

    Habitat

    Conifer forests, mainly (in parts of range almost exclusively) in spruce (Picea), also... read more

    Food and feeding

    Food adult and larval bugs (Hemiptera), including aphids (Aphidoidea), also beetles (Coleoptera), lacewings (Neuroptera), flies (Diptera),... read more

    Breeding

    Season end Mar to late Jul, later in N of range than in S; frequently two broods (though rarely so in deciduous woods), occasionally three... read more

    Movements

    Resident or makes short-distance altitudinal movements in S & W of range; N & E populations... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Common or fairly common in much of range; locally common in N Myanmar, and uncommon or scarce in Turkmenistan, Mongolia and SE China; recently... read more

    Recommended citation

    Gosler, A. & Clement, P. (2018). Coal Tit (Periparus ater). 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/59874 on 16 December 2018).