256. AZURE TITMOUSE.
Parus cyanus, Pall. Nov. Comm. Ac. Sci. Imp. Petrop. xiv. p. 588, Tab. 13, fig. 1 (1770) ; Naum. iv. p. 76, Taf. 95, fig. 3 ; Gould, B. of E. iii. pl. 153 ; Dresser, iii. p. 143, pl. 114 ; Gadow, Cat. B. Br. Mus. viii. p. 10 ; (Tacz.) F. O. Sib. O. p. 432.
Lasurmeise, German ; Azurmes, Swed. ; Bielaya-Lazorevka, Russ.
Male ad. (S. Ural). Crown, lores, and a ring round the eye white, a blackish blue stripe passing through the eye ; back bluish grey ; upper tail-coverts blue, tipped with white ; wings greyish brown, the outer webs of feathers blue and tipped with white ; a broad white alar bar ; tail blue, the outer feathers and tips white ; under parts white, with a small bluish black patch in the middle of the breast ; bill blackish ; legs plumbeous ; iris blackish brown. Culmen 0.4, wing 2.7, tail 2.7, tarsus 0.65 inch.
Hab. Russia, east through Siberia to the sea of Japan, and south to Turkestan. In Europe it has strayed as far west as Scandinavia, Germany, and Austria.
Frequents as a rule damp places, willow thickets on the borders of streams, and does not inhabit forests. Its call-note is very varied ; when on the wing it utters a loud but fine tirr, tirr, when perched a loud and agreeable tscherpink, tscherpink, tscherpink, very quickly in succession, and then a note like the pink, pink, tschsch, of the Coal Titmouse. Its flight consists of a succession of bow-shaped lines, and somewhat resembles that of the Wagtail, and is more powerful than that of P. major. Like its allies it is very active and restless, and feeds chiefly on insects of various kinds and their larvae. It breeds in May and places its nest in the hole of a tree, a willow being most frequently selected, and deposits 10 to 11 eggs. The nest is constructed of moss and hair, and the eggs are white, spotted with dull red, most nearly resembling those of P. coeruleus, and measure about 0.65 by 0.45.
Severtzoff separated subspecifically the Tian-shan bird under the name of Parus cyanus tianschanicus (J. f. O. 1873, p. 347), but I agree with Mr. Pleske that it cannot stand even as a sub-species.
256. Parus cyanus
256. AZURE TITMOUSE.