Bearded Tit

Panurus biarmicus

The bearded tit, also known by is more accurate name of Bearded Reedling is an extremely localised bird found predominantly in reedbeds.

Family:

Tits

Length:

12.5cm

Wingspan:

16cm to 18cm

Weight:

12g to 18g

Bearded Tit

What does a Bearded Tit look like?

The adult male is approximately equal in size to a blue tit. It has a blue grey head, pale grey breast and pale orange brown belly and underparts morphing to a black patch just under the tail. Upperparts are a darker shade of brown and orange, cream and black with an orange brown tail. Primary feathers are dark grey almost black and secondary feathers are brown. It has a yellow eye and its most striking feature is its black ‘moustache’, closely resembling a Mexican droopy moustache which starts between each eye and the base of its small yellow bill and covers the cheeks down the side of the chin. The female lacks the male’s moustache and has a pale brown head with streaked brown, black and cream wings and a reddish brown tail. Juveniles are mainly buff coloured with a black back and black wings with black sides to its rufous tail.

Bearded tit male 1

Male Bearded Tit

Bearded tit female

Female Bearded Tit

What does a Bearded Tit sound like?

A loud frequent somewhat tinny sound similar to ‘ping’, ‘pink’ or ‘pshinng’ interspersed with a melodious song of ‘tschin – schik – schra’ often repeated is an indication of the presence of the bearded tit long before it is seen.

Bearded Tit call

David Darrell-Lambert, XC447588. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/447588.

Did you know?

The bearded tit is from a family of passerines known as Timaliidae. It is not a tit, neither is it bearded! It is the only member of the Timaliidae family resident in Europe; all others inhabit tropical areas of Southeast Asia and the Indian Sub-continent.

Juvenile Bearded Tit drinking

Juvenile Bearded Tit drinking

What does a Bearded Tit eat?

Its diet is dependent upon what it can find foraging amongst reed litter or mud within reed beds or on the reed stems themselves and is usually confined to caterpillars, larvae, insects and seeds.

Bearded Tit flying around the reed beds in search of food

Bearded Tit flying around the reed beds in search of food

Where can I see Bearded Tits?

Bearded Tits are resident breeders who inhabit reedbeds mainly in coastal areas of Norfolk, Suffolk, the Severn Estuary, and the south coast of England. There are small numbers in East Yorkshire, South Wales, Lancashire and very localised areas of eastern Scotland. During winter months it may also be found among reedmace which is similar to a bulrush often found in freshwater margins.

Bearded Reedling in natural habitat

Bearded Reedling in natural habitat

Signs and Spotting tips

If actively seeking out bearded tits success is more likely if a calm day is chosen when they can easily be seen flitting from reed stem to reed stem. Its long tail and the male’s moustache are distinctive identification features.

How does a Bearded Tit breed?

Up to three broods may be produced annually between April through to August each consisting of an average of 5 – 7 eggs which are a creamy white colour with dark brown speckles. The nest, built by the male and female, is cup shaped and constructed out of reed stems and marsh plant leaves lined with finer scavenged materials. It is normally sited under overhanging foliage or attached to vertical reed stems. Both parents incubate the eggs which hatch after fourteen days.

A pair of male and female Bearded Tits

A pair of male and female Bearded Tits

How long do Bearded Tits live for?

The life expectancy of the bearded tit is between two to three years.

Country distribution of a Bearded Tit

Similar birds to a Bearded Tit

Other birds in the Tits family