Bearded Tit Bird (Panurus biarmicus)

 

The male bearded tit is tawny brown in colour and has a long tail similar to the tail of a long-tail tit. The male bearded tit has a blue-grey head and a splendid black moustache rather like a beard which gives him his name. The female bearded tit is quite drab. They are found living in reed beds and have a distinctive loud ‘ping’ call.

The bearded tit is a very interesting bird in many respects. It is probably not a tit at all but a bearded ‘reedling’ according to some bird experts. Its more akin to the parrot bills of China than any other UK bird.

Bearded tits have a unique feeding strategy. Small invertebrates, mainly insects are the food of choice in the Summer.  When winter arrives, the bearded tit completely switches diet to the reed seeds instead of migrating to warmer climes . This change in diet required a radical change in the bearded tit’s digestion causing its stomach to double in size.

Although the bearded tit has rather stubby short wings it is capable of flying long distances, even migration. They sometimes randomly form colonies then fly away from their reed bed homes. Eventually they will settling down several hundred miles away from the reedbed.

Bearded tit populations suffer badly from severe winters when ice forms over the reed beds and feeding becomes impossible. Bearded tit numbers were decimated during a particularly harsh winter of 1947 in the UK. Ice coated the reed heads and the bearded tits starved. These birds have not really recovered from the severe winters of the past and coupled with habitat loss, river pollution their fortunes look quite tenuous. If there is another severe icy winter I hope they will survive.

The pretty bearded tit bird with his sandy-coloured body,  blue-grey head and fetching moustache nearly died out due to Victorians who caught them and had them stuffed for ornaments for their homes.

I had had a little rest from watercolour painting and not picked up a brush for several months. I painted this bearded tit and was pleased with the colours. I like the reed that he is perched upon too and pleased with the colours.
The painting technique that I have used for this bearded tit artwork was to build up layers of watercolour using Windsor and Newton Artist Watercolour Paints on Bockingford paper

If you would like to purchase this signed limited edition print please visit shop bearded tit artwork.