Common Tailorbird

• ORDER • • FAMILY • • GENUS & SPECIES •

Passeriformes Sylviidae Orthotomus sutorius

• ORDER • • FAMILY • • GENUS & SPECIES •

Passeriformes Sylviidae Orthotomus sutorius

\ • An abundant

insecteater that is as ■ at home in an urban vegetable patch as in F the undergrowth of a forest clearing

I • Stitches leaves together to form a pouch, in which it builds its nest hidden from predators Ef J

• The constant call between male and female is a characteristic sound [ of southeastern Asia ifw!

where in the world?

Found across southern f< China, southeastern Asia, the Malay Peninsula and Java; also throughout the Indian subcontinent, including Sri Lanka

The tailorbird owes its name to the female's extraordinary sewing skills. Using her bill as a needle, she stitches one or more leaves into a pouch to form the basis of the nest.

A. Bird in the bush The tailorbird lives in undergrowth that springs up in forest clearings.

The common or long-tailed tailorbird is a familiar sight throughout its extensive range. It even thrives in urban gardens and parks, where it hunts and skulks in hedges, flowerbeds and tangled shrubbery.

The common tailorbird is adaptable, taking advantage of any dense vegetation, including forest clearings. It is also found in semi-desert scrublands and in clumps of bamboo woodland at altitudes of up to 6,000', provided that there is cover for nesting.

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# Despite its efforts to

The common tailorbird

hide its nest, the tailorbird

often steals fibers from

is often the victim of

house doormats, which it

cuckoos, which lay their

then uses to stitch up its

eggs in the tiny nests.

Seemingly tireless, the common tailorbird hops actively among bushes, hedges and trees in its ceaseless search for tiny insects, its tail cocked high above its back and wagging from side to side.

The bird's weak, erratic flight makes it an easy target for flying predators.Therefore, it flits swiftly from one patch of undergrowth to another; avoiding open areas. However; where the tailorbird inhabits areas near human settlements, it is surprisingly tame.

A tailorbird pair forms a long-term bond and lives within a static territory all year. The birds remain in constant contact with each other, uttering a surprisingly loud, monotonous call: chee-up, chee-up.When danger threatens, such as the appearance of a shikra — the common small sparrowhawk of southern Asia — the pair makes noisy alarm calls of pit-pit-pit until the danger has passed.

breeding

The tropical undergrowth where the tailorbird lives teems with nest robbers, such as snakes, lizards, mongooses and various predatory birds. To avoid these predators, the tailorbird constructs its nest deep in a thicket or tree up to 20' high.

Pairs usually breed between February and May. After mating, the female begins the arduous work of nest-building. It takes her up to two days to stitch the pouch together, while the male defends the pair's territory from other tailorbirds. Once the pouch is complete, the male helps her construct the nest from grasses, and then line it with cotton, feathers and animal hairs.

Both parents incubate the clutch, and later bring food to the nestlings — an exhausting task that ^ Safety pouch occupies them constantly until the The nest leaves provide chicks are fledged two weeks later. excellent camouflage.

getting stitched up

Selecting a large leaf in the middle of a bush, the female carefully brings the two edges together to form a pouch.

Q Needlework.

Using her long, thin bill like a hole puncher, the female deftly jabs a line of small, precise holes along the edges of each side of the leaf.

Selecting a large leaf in the middle of a bush, the female carefully brings the two edges together to form a pouch.

Q Needlework.

Using her long, thin bill like a hole puncher, the female deftly jabs a line of small, precise holes along the edges of each side of the leaf.

Chiffchaff

Passeeifoomee

FAMILY

Sylviidae

GENUS & SPECIES

Phylloscopus collybita

One of the first migrants to appear in northern Europe, the chiffchaff arrives in early spring. The male broadcasts his presence by singing heartily from treetops.

The chiffchaff is a bird of woodlands, A Bushy tale but is often found in large, wooded Thick vegetation is an gardens and even in hedgerows ideal chiffchaff habitat. studded with tall trees. Like other leaf warblers, it is most at home in tree canopies or among tangles of vegetation and rarely alights in the open. If there is enough cover; the chiffchaff sometimes feeds in low shrubs, but it only breeds where there are trees the male may use as singing posts.

The chiffchaff arrives in northern European woodlands so early that it often sets up its breeding territories before the trees are fully in leaf.

breeding breeding

The chiffchaff's arrival in early spring allows breeding to get off to a prompt start. The male courts the female with a fluttering display flight and, after mating, the female alone weaves the nest from a variety of plant matter and animal hair. The nest is a domed structure built about 1' from the ground in a tangle of plants.The female lays her clutch of eggs in early May, unless the weather is especially cold; then, there might be a delay

The male chiffchaff takes no part in incubating eggs, although he helps feed the nestlings once they have hatched. But the female does most of the work, carrying a supply of insects to the nest.

After the first brood has fledged, the female often produces a second, which normally hatches out in July. Although these later nestlings do not have to face the uncertain spring weather; they may have less time to feed before the migration south. If they fail to build up enough body fat, they may die on the journey building a nest

Q Extra bedding.

The female collects leaves, grass, animal hair and feathers to build and line the nest. Sheep's wool makes a useful insulating material.

Q Extra bedding.

The female collects leaves, grass, animal hair and feathers to build and line the nest. Sheep's wool makes a useful insulating material.

food & hunting

The chiffchaff feeds mainly on insects and times its arrival at its breeding grounds to take full advantage of the spring boom in invertebrates. The hunt involves hours of nonstop activity as the bird flits from tree to tree, inspecting leaves, buds and twigs for caterpillars and adult insects.

Like most of its relatives, the chiffchaff specializes in picking insects off plants and rarely catches them in midairThe chiffchaff has been seen feeding on nectar from flowers and, in its winter quarters, sometimes eats fruit and berries.

A. Heavy lunch

The chiffchaff must forage constantly to feed young.

A. Heavy lunch

The chiffchaff must forage constantly to feed young.

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Q Secret hideaway.

Despite being close to the ground, the nest is well hidden.The female arrives and leaves rapidly to avoid revealing the location to predators.

Q Soft furnishings.

The female tugs moss from stones with her beak and adds it to the nest; this extra layer provides insulation from wind.

Q Builder at work

Although the female may have never built a nest before, instinct tells her how to arrange the materials collected.

Q Secret hideaway.

Despite being close to the ground, the nest is well hidden.The female arrives and leaves rapidly to avoid revealing the location to predators.

Q Soft furnishings.

The female tugs moss from stones with her beak and adds it to the nest; this extra layer provides insulation from wind.

Q Builder at work

Although the female may have never built a nest before, instinct tells her how to arrange the materials collected.

behavior conservation

The chiffchaff is one of Europe's most common and widespread birds. Compared to some other songbirds, such as the hedge sparrow or skylark, chiffchaff numbers have remained relatively stable despite dramatic changes to the rural landscape.This is because the chiffchaff eats a wide range of insect food and breeds in many types of wooded habitats including bushes close to towns, parks and gardens.

Solitary during winter and migration, the chiffchaff rarely flocks and only appears with others during breeding. But the bird communicates with other chiffchaffs nearby through calls — often to warn of danger.

Like many birds, both sexes of chiffchaff share a repertoire of simple one-note calls. In addition, the male sings to announce that he has claimed a territory and to invite females into it to mate. His song, from which the chiffchaff takes its name, consists of a repetitive and random sequence of two notes, the second note being a lower pitch than the first.

# The chiffchaff is so similar to the willow warbler that it usually takes an expert to tell them apart. However, the willow warbler has a more melodic song.

# A chiffchaff's color shows regional variations. Birds from Siberia are mainly gray and white, while European birds are more olive-brown.

The wood mouse is a chiffchaff enemy. In places where it's common, the mouse can destroy over three-quarters of chiffchaff nests, eating eggs and nestlings.

Staking a claim A treetop is an excellent vantage point for the male to claim territory.

Breed White Destroy

Chiffchaff 203

OFILE Chiffchaff

With its tiny lightweight body, slender toes and narrow beak, the chiffchaff is adept at foraging for insects beyond the reach of many birds.

Bill

The bill ends in a sharp point and is small enough to permit the chiffchaff to pick up minute insects one by one.

Plumage

Jk Olive-brown coloring enables the chiffchaff to hide among twigs and leaves.The bird is easiest to see in early spring, when it is often silhouetted in the bare treetops.

Wings

Small wings enable the chiffchaff to fly and hover in thick foliage while hunting for insects.

Birds With Splayed Legs

The chiffchaff's legs splay out at an angle to steady it as it feeds. Like other songbirds, it has toes that curl around twigs for greater stability when it perches.

creature comparisons

Wings

Small wings enable the chiffchaff to fly and hover in thick foliage while hunting for insects.

vital statistics

| Weight 0.21-0.35 oz.

[■ Length

4-4.4"

i Wingspan

6-8.5"

Sexual Maturity

1 year

Breeding . Season

April to July

■ Number of . Eggs

4-7

. Incubation [ Period

13-15 days

Fledging Period

14-16 days

clutches a year

' Typical Diet

Insects and their larvae

p Lifespan

Up to 6 years

The chiffchaff's legs splay out at an angle to steady it as it feeds. Like other songbirds, it has toes that curl around twigs for greater stability when it perches.

creature comparisons

The chiffchaff is one of a group of small insect-eating birds called leaf warblers. Although leaf warblers often look similar; they all have slightly different habitats and feeding preferences, thus reducing competition. Bonelli's warbler (Phylloscopus bonelli), for A example, resembles the chiffchaff in size and coloring but prefers to live in mountain forests, particularly in southern Europe. In contrast to the chiffchaff s call, the song of

Bonelli's Bonelli's warbler consists of a short' trill with a single note.

• The chiffchaff belongs to the family Sylviidae, which includes European, African and Asian leaf warblers. This family is a small part of the diverse order Passeriformes, which includes the blue-tailed pitta, Pitta guajana (below).

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