Reproductive biology

Breeding season is from January (bushtit) to July. The diminutive pygmy tit on Java has a further season, from August to November.

During breeding, larger feeding and roosting flocks break down as individual birds pair together. In early parts of the breeding season, birds often still roost together; during a cold spell, feeding flocks may reform. Once the nest has been constructed, its warmth and security provide adequate roosting space for the pair alone.

Nests are enclosed oval or more elongated structures woven from moss, lichen, spider silk, and plant material. Once complete, they are quite light in color, possibly an attempt by the builders to camouflage them against light background breaks in the woodland canopy. Toward the top, each nest

Long-tailed titmouse (Aegithalos caudatus) feeding young at its nest. (Photo by Stephen Dalton. Photo Researchers, Inc. Reproduced by permission.)

has an entrance hole and is furnished with a soft lining that can include more than 2,000 feathers. They are commonly located low in the woodland shrub layer, suspended among or in the forks of suitable branches.

Clutch size is 2-12 eggs. The birds incubate for 12-18 days. Once hatched, youngsters are cared for by the parents and, in some cases, other members of the flock, often individuals whose own breeding attempts have failed. The young fledge within three weeks of hatching and remain with the parents' flock over the first winter.

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