Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Twins

At this time of year some juvenile blue, great and coal tits still have yellow faces, and are easily told apart from adults; they’re noisy, and some are probably still attached to their parents.  Marsh and willow tits are not so easy to tell apart, and it was the ‘petuw, petuw, petuw’ call that gave away the young marsh tit amongst the flock in the valley this morning. They’re less common nowadays, but I can sometimes find them in deciduous woods, and they’re still visitors to garden feeders, but alas not mine. Willow tits on the other hand are much more elusive, and I haven’t seen one for a long time, and I fear that they may be almost extinct on Gower.

The origin of bird names is intriguing, but these twins are particularly confusing. Marsh tits should be associated with marshes, and willow tits with willows, but it’s not that simple. The former is generally found in woodlands and not marshes, whereas willow tits, although often found in willow thickets, normally live in marshy places. There must be an explanation. Marsh and willow tits were originally considered one species, and only separated just over 100 years ago.

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