237. COAL TITMOUSE.
Parus ater, Linn. Syst. Nat. i. p. 341 (1760) ; Naum. iv. p. 34, Taf. 94, fig. 2 ; Gould, B. of E. iii. pl. 155, fig. 1 ; Newton, i. p. 489 ; Dresser, iii. p. 87, pl. 107, fig. 3 ; Gadow, Cat. B. Br. Mus. viii. p. 40 ; Saunders, p. 105 ; Lilford, ii. p. 104, pl. 46.
Mesange noire, French ; Garrapinos, Span. ; Cincia mora, Ital. ; Tannenmeise, German ; Zwarte Mees, Dutch ; Sortmeise, Dan. ; Kulmeise, Norweg. ; Svartmes, Swed. ; Mustatiitinen, Finn. ; Tchernaya-Sinitchka, Russ. ; Sosnovka, Polish.
Male ad. (Sweden). Crown, sides of the neck, and throat black ; cheeks and a large muchal patch white ; upper parts clear slaty blue ; under parts white, the flanks washed with buff ; wings and tail blackish, externally margined with grey ; median and greater wing-coverts tipped with white, forming two alar bars ; bill black ; legs plumbeous ; iris brown. Culmen 0.4, wing 2.4, tail 2.0, tarsus 1.65 inch. Sexes alike. The young have the black, portions duller, the upper parts washed with olivaceous, the nape, cheeks, and under parts yellowish.
Hab. Europe from about 64° to 65° N. Lat. to the Medi¬terranean ; Siberia ; Asia Minor and Central Asia to northern China and Japan ; rare in Great Britain.
In its habits it is lively and active, continually on the move, flitting amongst the branches, clinging to the twigs in every position, often head downwards. Its flight is short, laboured, jerky, and rather weak, and its note is a clear, shrill che-chee, che-chee, audible at a considerable distance. Its food con¬sists almost entirely of insects and their larvae worms, and caterpillars, which it picks from the branches of trees or from the ground. Its nest, which is constructed of grass and moss, lined with hair, feathers, or wool, is placed in the hole of a tree or wall, or occasionally in a hole in the ground, and the eggs, 6 to 9, or even more in number, are deposited in April or May, and are white, marked, chiefly at the larger end, with dark red spots and blotches, and measure about 0.58 by 0.45.
In eastern Asia these birds frequently have the occipital feathers slightly elongated, and have been separated (P. pekinensis, David), but this is by no means a constant difference.
237. Parus ater
237. COAL TITMOUSE.