Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Bearded reedling

Panurus biarmicus

Photo by György Szimuly (Flickr)

Common name:

Order Passeriformes
Family Paradoxornithidae

This species is found in most of temperate Europe, from Spain, France and the United Kingdom all the way to Kazakhstan, then into western Mongolia and northern China.

The bearded reedling is 14-16 cm long and has a wingspan of 16-18 cm. They weigh up to 20 g.

They are mostly found in reedbeds and associated vegetation, namely bulrushes (Typha), along fresh or brackish water lakes, marshes, swamps and rivers. They are generally found at low altitudes, near sea-level, but in China they may occur at altitudes of up to 3.000 m.

During winter the bearded reedling mostly subsists on the seeds of Phragmites, Typha and Juncus. In spring and summer they become almost exclusively carnivorous, taking insects such as mayflies, aphids and the larvae and pupae of various moths, but also spiders and snails.

This species breeds in loose colonies in reedbeds. Both male and female build the nest, a deep cup of reed leaves and other plants, lined with reed flower-heads and feathers, located deep amidst plant stalks, above water, or on land. The female lays 4-8 pale, streaked, and speckled eggs which are incubated by both parents for 10-14 days. The pair raises the chicks together, until fledging 12-15 days after hatching. Each pair may produce up to 3 clutches per year.

IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
With a global population of 1,5-6 million and an extremely large breeding range, this species is not threatened. The overall population trend is difficult to determine as some populations are increasing and others decreasing, and populations are subject to considerable fluctuations.

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