SPECIES

Black-throated Tit Aegithalos concinnus

Robyn P. Geldard, Simon Harrap, Josep del Hoyo, David Christie, Nigel Collar, Guy M. Kirwan, and Andrew J. Spencer
Version: 2.0 — Published December 22, 2020

Sounds and Vocal Behavior

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Sounds and Vocal Behavior

Vocalizations typical of Aegithalidae. Though a vocal species, apparently does not possess a territorial song, and its repertoire consists of various high-pitched sounds that can be given by many members of a flock at once. Minor vocal differences between the different taxonomic groups of this species deserve further research.

Vocalizations

The three subspecies groups, which correspond to the three species recognized by del Hoyo and Collar (1), have minor but apparently consistent vocal differences, and are described separately here.

Black-throated Tit (Black-throated)

Trill. A very high-pitched (c 7-8 kHz) series of 5-10 notes of relatively even duration, the entire vocalization lasting c 0.3-0.4s. Some variation in overall pitch and pace, with the most common version descending slightly, while others are more evenly pitched. Typically faster than the analogous vocalization in other subspecies. Typically repeated every few seconds, and reminiscent of song of Eurasian Blue Tit (Cyanistes caeruleus).

Sputter. Slightly lower-pitched than the Trill, an explosive, descending, dry sputter typically given in bursts of 3-7 notes. Often given as a longer series of several bursts. Other versions can be extremely short, nearly single-noted, and sound similar to the Chip, but drier. The most commonly heard call from alarmed birds. Notably higher-pitched than the analogous vocalization in other subspecies.

Chip. A single, clipped and flat “chet” note, at a similar pitch to the Sputter call, and often given in conjunction with it or with the Sit call. Relatively rarely recorded, and seems to be associated with alarm.

Sit. Most often heard as a doubled or tripled, high-pitched (c 6-8 kHz), short overslurred or slightly downslurred notes. Few recordings available, but some versions grade into Sputters. Often given in conjunction with other calls, especially the Chip, but function poorly known.

Black-throated Tit (Red-headed)

Trill. A very high-pitched (c 6.5-8 kHz) series of 5-8 notes, with the first notes longer than the subsequent ones, the entire vocalization lasting c 0.5s. Some variation in overall pitch and pace, with the most common version being relatively flat and even, but others rising then falling, or accelerating. A recording of apparently stereotyped trills from India may be the equivalent of song in this species, but more study needed. Typically slower than the analogous vocalization in the Black-throated group.

Sputter. Notably lower-pitched than the Trill, a fast, dry sputter typically given in bursts of 3-7 notes, sometimes drawn out into a longer series of several bursts. Other versions can be extremely short, nearly single-noted, and sound similar to the Chip, but drier. The most commonly heard call from alarmed birds.

Chip. A single, slightly downslurred chip or chik note, at a similar pitch to the Sputter call, and often given in conjunction with it or with the Sit call. Relatively rarely recorded, and seems to be associated with alarm.

Sit. Most often heard as a doubled or tripled, high-pitched (c 6-8 kHz), short slightly downslurred notes, sounding somewhat like a single note of the Trill but not as clear. Often given in conjunction with other calls, especially the Chip, but function poorly known.

Black-throated Tit (Gray-crowned)

Few recordings available for the Gray-crowned group, and vocalizations comparatively poorly known. Likely has a similar repertoire to other groups in this species, but only sounds with available recordings described here.

Trill. A very high-pitched (c 7-8 kHz) series of 5-8 notes, given at an even pitch. In the few available recordings follows a distinctive pattern, with the first two notes longer in duration, followed by a faster series of shorter notes, the entire vocalization lasting c 0.5-0.8s.

Sputter. Slightly lower-pitched than the Trill, an explosive, descending, dry sputter typically given in bursts of 3-7 notes, very similar to the Sputter of the Black-throated group.

Chip. A single, slightly downslurred chip or chik note, at a similar pitch to the Sputter call. In the single available recording given with Sputters. Similar to the Chip of the Red-headed Group.

Phenology

No information.

Daily Pattern of Vocalizing

No information.

Places of Vocalizing

No specific information available, but likely gives all vocalizations in its repertoire from any location where flocks of this species moves. Sputters and Chips have been heard from both the canopy and while moving hidden near the ground while mobbing predators or responding to playback of Collared Owlet (AJS).

Gender Differences

No information.

Repertoire and Delivery of Songs

No information.

Social Context and Presumed Functions of Vocalizations

All vocalizations given by birds in flocks of this species, often mixed together into a distinctive chorus of sound that draws attention to the flock. Birds exhibiting a higher level of alarm (i.e., in response to pishing or in the presence of a predator) give more Sputters and Chips, and these vocalizations may function as an alarm call in the species. While this species and congeners are thought to not have a territorial song, a few available recordings of stereotypes Trills may serve a similar function, but more study needed.

Nonvocal Sounds

None known.

Recommended Citation

Geldard, R. P., S. Harrap, J. del Hoyo, D. A. Christie, N. Collar, G. M. Kirwan, and A. J. Spencer (2020). Black-throated Tit (Aegithalos concinnus), version 2.0. In Birds of the World (S. M. Billerman and B. K. Keeney, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.blttit2.02