Bearded reedling

Bearded reedling[1]
Adult male in Kent, England
Adult female in Kent, England
Birds recorded in Norfolk, England
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Panuridae
Des Murs, 1860
Genus: Panurus
Koch, 1816
Species: P. biarmicus
Binomial name
Panurus biarmicus
(Linnaeus, 1758)
Bearded reedling, Texel Netherlands (2009)

The bearded reedling (Panurus biarmicus) is a small, sexually dimorphic reed-bed passerine bird. It is frequently known as the bearded tit, due to some similarities to the long-tailed tit, or the bearded parrotbill.


The bearded reedling was formerly placed with the parrotbills in the family Paradoxornithidae, after they were removed from the true tits in the family Paridae. More recent research suggests it is actually a unique songbird - no other living species seems to be particularly closely related to it.[3] If this is correct, the monotypic family Panuridae must again be recognized. The current genus name, Panurus is from Ancient Greek panu, "exceedingly", and oura, "tail". The specific biarmicus is from "Biarmia", a Latinised form of Bjarmaland formerly part of what is now the Arkhangelsk Oblast area of Russia.[4]


This is a small orange-brown bird with a long tail and an undulating flight. The male has a grey head and black moustaches (not a beard); the lower tail coverts are also black. The female is generally paler, with no black. Flocks often betray their presence in a reedbed by their characteristic "ping" call.

Habitat and distribution

Egg, Collection Museum Wiesbaden

This species is a wetland specialist, breeding colonially in large reed beds by lakes or swamps. It eats reed aphids in summer, and reed seeds in winter, its digestive system changing to cope with the very different seasonal diets.[5]

The bearded reedling is a species of temperate Europe and Asia. It is resident, and most birds do not migrate other than eruptive or cold weather movements. It is vulnerable to hard winters, which may kill many birds. The English population of about 500 pairs is largely confined to the south and east with a small population in Leighton Moss in north Lancashire. In Ireland a handful of pairs breed in County Wexford. The largest single population in Great Britain is to be found in the reedbeds at the mouth of the River Tay in Perth and Kinross, Scotland, where there may be in excess of 250 pairs.[6]


  1. Gill, F; D Donsker, eds. (2011). "Waxwings to Swallows". IOC World Bird Names (version 2.9). Archived from the original on 24 July 2011. Retrieved 20 August 2011.
  2. BirdLife International (2012). "Panurus biarmicus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
  3. Johansson, Ulf S.; Fjeldså, Jon; Bowie, Rauri CK (2008). "Phylogenetic relationships within Passerida (Aves: Passeriformes): a review and a new molecular phylogeny based on three nuclear intron markers". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 48 (3): 858–876. Retrieved 2016-10-11.
  4. Jobling, James A (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London: Christopher Helm. pp. 71, 291. ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4.
  5. Robson, Craig (2007). "Family Paradoxornithidae (Parrotbill)". In del Hoyo, Josep; Elliott, Andrew; Christie, David. Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 12: Picathartes to Tits and Chickadees. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. pp. 292–320. ISBN 978-84-96553-42-2.
  6. Forrester R.W. & Andrews I.J Eds (2007) The Birds of Scotland Volume 2 Scottish Ornithologists' Club ISBN 978-0-9512139-0-2

External links

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