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White-browed tit-warbler

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These birds are small, weighing 6–8 g (0.21–0.28 oz) and are 8.5–10 cm (3.3–3.9 in) long. The males are vibrantly colored, with distinctive blue-mauve underparts.[2] Both males and females have a light brown crown and white supercilium (eyebrow). The rump and upper tail-coverts are violet blue. Females are generally duller, and can be distinguished by their pale underparts, whereas the males have violet-blue underparts and chest. The tail is relatively long.[5]

Dickcissel male perched on a metal pole singing, with neck stretched and beak open.

Songs & calls
Listen to white-browed tit-warbler on xeno-canto
Distribution and habitat
The white-browed tit-warbler prefers dry mountainous shrubland between 2,000–5,000 m (6,600–16,400 ft). It ranges in the Himalayas, the Tibetan Plateau, and much of Northwest China. They tend to disperse to lower elevations during the winter.[5] A 2016 paper determined that they belonged to a "Middle-mountainous forest steppe community" within the Tian Shan mountain range.[6] A study within Karakoram National Park found that they were uncommon residents, and that there was a winter influx of population.[7]

Behavior and ecology
White-browed tit-warblers generally live in pairs during the breeding season, but will join flocks of 25 or more individuals at the end of the season. During winter these flocks may become multi-species.[2]

Breeding and nesting
A study in the mountains of Tibet found that the white-browed tit-warbler begins breeding before any other local songbird, generally starting in early April and running through July. Breeding is delayed as elevation increases. Pairs are monogamous, with males and females sharing nesting duties. Nests are dome-shaped and placed in shrubs about .9 m (3.0 ft) off the ground. Both sexes build nests over a period of two weeks. Four to six whitish eggs with red-brown spots on the tips are laid, although up to nine may be laid. Eggs average 1.14 g (0.040 oz) in mass and average 15.6 mm × 11.6 mm (0.61 in × 0.46 in) in dimension. Incubation lasts an average of 20.5 days. An average of 4.3 eggs hatch, but only 3.8 survive to fledging – which occurs around 17.5 days old. Broods raised late in the season tended to have higher ratios of females. When the nestlings hatch they are naked and do not open their eyes until they are approximately 7 days old. At this time their sex is identifiable.[5]

The Tibetan study noted some unusual behavior, such as two females attending a single nest, which means that the species may practice cooperative breeding.[5] This finding is backed up by the discovery of egg dumping, in which a female laid her entire clutch in another's nest, and not as a form of brood parasitism. Cooperative nesting remains rare, however, occurring in less than 1% of nests, compared to 50% in the related black-throated bushtit.[5]

Feeding
Their diet consists chiefly of small insects and spiders, which are caught mainly on the ground. They are vigorous foragers, and search under roots and rocks. Some insects may be taken aerially however. The diet is supplemented by a small amount of seeds and berries in the colder months. Chicks are fed solely insect matter.[2]

Survival
Predation accounts for a relatively low rate of nest failure: only 34% compared to an average of 80% for birds in similar habitats. This may be enabled by their well camouflaged nests, or simply the lack of local predators.[5] Despite living in a very cold climate, they lack an arteria ophthalmica externa, a specialized blood vessel. In many cold adapted birds, this blood vessel is routed through the skull such that it minimizes heat loss. This adaptation helped songbirds to colonize cold climates, but the white-browed tit-warbler's lack of the trait points to other methods of surviving their cold environment.[8]
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BEAUTIFUL LITTLE BIRDS.

Donnajames

This little one is so pretty. Love the colors. dj

Zsuzsineni2

I agree with WPGP! Zsuzsi

What a pretty little bird.

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