10 Jun 2010

"Panda Bird" - What's in a name ?

Here's a photo of a Black-throated Tit, taken in Yunnan Province, China, in October last year.

Does the name really matter ? It looks like a panda to me, although I admit that it's a LOT smaller than a panda.

I first saw this species in Fujian Province, China, in 1986. The more experienced birders on the trip - everyone else, basically - used the English name "Red-headed Tit", after Prof. Cheng's "Synopsis of the Avifauna of China" and various editions of "Birds of Hong Kong" by Viney and Phillipps.

Even then, though, according to the other books we were using; - "The Birds of China" by R. Meyer De Schaunsee, and Ben King's "Field Guide to the Birds of SE Asia" it was "Black-throated Tit". As the more southerly SE Asian sub-species of this Tit have grayish caps, not red, King's position made sense. But on Chinese birds, the most prominent feature was the redness of the head.

I didn't study latin at school, but this experience taught me to pay attention to the scientific names of birds. The main reason was that Asian bird books used a confusing variety of English names, but at least the scientific names were consistent.

Another photo:

This one is Aegithalos (family) concinnus (species) talifuensis (subspecies).

The name means "Tit" - "beautiful" - "from Dali".

That's fine with me !


  1. looks like its got a double chin to me! hahaha!

  2. Marie

    Surely not ! They lead a healthy lifestyle !

  3. This is one of my favourite tits!
    The subspecies in Thailand also has this same shade of reddish crown. I've seen another in India and it has much darker chestnut crown. These birds are super tough to get good photos of.......you did a really great job here!!!

  4. So it's a kind of Long Tailed Tit?

    Nice pics.

  5. Unravel - I was lucky, they came up a slope towards me, and I got them below eye level..
    Stu - they must be related, same family, of course..