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A photo of a White-browed Tit-warbler (Leptopoecile sophiae), male
White-browed Tit-warbler, Male

White-browed Tit-warbler

Leptopoecile sophiae

The White-browed Tit-Warbler, Leptopoecile sophiae, is a diminutive and vibrantly colored bird, a jewel of the high-altitude boreal forests. Males are particularly striking with their blue-mauve underparts, while both sexes sport a light brown crown and a distinctive white supercilium, or eyebrow. The rump and upper tail-coverts shine in a violet blue, and their tails are notably long. Females, though slightly less vivid, share the same elegant markings but with paler underparts.

Identification Tips

When observing these birds, look for the characteristic white eyebrow that stands out against their brown crown. Males can be identified by their vibrant violet-blue underparts and chest, while females are more subdued with pale underparts. Both sexes measure between 8.5–10 cm in length and weigh a mere 6–8 g, with a relatively long tail that aids in their identification.

Habitat

The White-browed Tit-Warbler is adapted to dry mountainous shrubland, thriving at elevations of 2,000–5,000 meters. These birds are perfectly at home in the harsh conditions of the Himalayas, the Tibetan Plateau, and the expansive reaches of Northwest China.

Distribution

This species is a resident of the Tian Shan and central China, with a presence in the Himalayas, particularly during the winter months. They exhibit a seasonal movement to lower elevations when the cold sets in.

Behaviour

During the breeding season, these birds are typically found in pairs, but as the season wanes, they may gather in flocks of 25 or more. In winter, these flocks can become multi-species, a testament to their sociable nature.

Song & Calls

Listen to the White-browed Tit-Warbler on xeno-canto

Breeding

The White-browed Tit-Warbler is an early breeder, with the season spanning from April to July. Monogamous pairs share the responsibility of nest building and care for their young. Nests are dome-shaped, artfully constructed within shrubs. Clutches typically consist of four to six whitish eggs, speckled with red-brown spots.

Diet and Feeding

A diet rich in small insects and spiders sustains the White-browed Tit-Warbler, with foraging taking place predominantly on the ground. They are agile hunters, searching under roots and rocks, occasionally capturing prey mid-flight. During the leaner winter months, their diet is supplemented with seeds and berries.

Conservation status

Currently, the White-browed Tit-Warbler is classified as Least Concern by the IUCN. However, a study noted a significant decline in nests over a two-year period, the cause of which remains uncertain, highlighting the need for ongoing monitoring of their population status.

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White-browed Tit-warblers on Birda

Sightings
A map showing the sighting location
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Jeremie Berlioux
18 Nov 2023 - 11:59am
Kyrgyzstan

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