Southern Black Tit

Melaniparus (Parus) niger

One of the trickiest birds to photograph in South Africa in my personal opinion, owing to the seemingly tireless fashion with which they move while foraging through the trees, is the Southern Black Tit.  It is a bird most closely associated with woodlands dominated by broad-leaved trees and less commonly found in Acacia savannas, forests, plantations and gardens. These tits feed mainly on insects, even pecking open seeds and thorns to reach larvae inside, though they will also consume fruit and nectar given the opportunity.

Southern Black Tits are usually encountered in small groups, consisting mostly of a territorial and monogamous breeding pair and up to four helpers, and often in association with other small insectivorous bird species. They breed during spring and summer, when the dominant female in the group furnishes her nest in a cavity in a tree using grass, lichen, hair and soft leaves and lays a clutch of one to six (usually 3) eggs. The female also takes sole responsibility for the incubation of the eggs over a two week period, during which she occasionally leaves the nest to go foraging. When the chicks hatch they are fed by all the group members, and although they fledge when they’re about 3-4 weeks old they don’t start feeding themselves for another two weeks or so afterwards. The chicks are fully independent at between 2 and 3 months of age. Adults weigh approximately 21g, measuring around 16cm in length.

In South Africa, Southern Black Tits can be found from the Eastern Cape, through Kwazulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and Gauteng to the Limpopo and North West provinces. They are also found in parts of eSwatini (Swaziland), Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, Angola, Zambia and Malawi. The IUCN considers the Southern Black Tit to be of least concern, estimating the South African population alone at around 10-million.

19 thoughts on “Southern Black Tit

  1. Abrie Joubert

    De Wet, jy is wesenlik brawer as ek. Daar is nie ‘n manier dat ek ‘n blogpost ‘n titel (o gaats dit is ook in titel) met die woord tit in gaan gee nie! 🙂 Maar nee dit maak nie van jou ‘n afloerder nie, dit maak soos wat Carol en Don bevestig, ‘n goeie fotograaf

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  2. Don Reid

    I agree totally on the difficulty of photographing this species – after many attempts I have just one very average photo so am in awe of those you have shared here!

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    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      I’ve often wondered about our tits and why they don’t even look remotely like those in the Northern Hemisphere. Now it also seems their behaviour is quite different. Interesting.

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  3. Anne

    I always look forward to the annual (brief) visit of Southern Black Tits in our garden. They must be passing through from where to where, but I only spot them for a day or two each year.

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    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      That’s a very interesting observation, Anne! I don’t recall any “migration” being mentioned in the literature about the Southern Black Tit and finding out what prompts this behaviour where you are could make a very interesting study.

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  4. sustainabilitea

    It may be one of the most difficult to photograph, but you rose admirably to the challenge. I particularly like the upside down shot. 🙂 You’d enjoy the Preserve where I walk now. There are all sorts of birds there and I’ve been enjoying capturing them with my camera.

    janet

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