Escaped Azure Tit (Cyanistes cyanus) in Catalunya, October 2020.

 

Cyanistes cyanus. Lliçà de Munt, Vallès Oriental, Barcelona. 12.10.2020 © Sergi Torné

On 12 October 2020 , 10:25 hours, news broke into one of the WhatsApp channels broadcasting rare bird observations in Catalunya: ‘Cat Twitch’. Vittorio Pedrocchi asked for a BOC photo he had received depicting a shocking (bit burnt image of an) Azure tit (Cyanistes cyanus).

Soon later, it was learnt that Alfons Hernández had found it and photographed it at Bassa de Can Dunyó , at Lliçà de Munt, Vallès Oriental, Barcelona. The bird had been seen lingering around the reed beds, trees and the nearby stream, apparently behaving normal.

A number of local birders from the comarca (a country like division we have in Catalunya) had departed to attempt relocating this dream bird.

However, despite the available image depicted a non-suspicious pure individual, many doubts immediately arose within the group and beyond. Namely, the paucity of records elsewhere in Europe away from Finland and Poland. Birdguides website states that a German record in 1821 was considered an escapee and a bird in France in 1907/08 was thought to be a fraud or perhaps a hybrid. A further 2006 record in Germany was also placed in E category.

Besides, some members said the species had been bred in captivity near Barcelona.

By 14:58 sad but expected news came in: the bird was ringed (ring visible in the above photo). One minute later the ring was confirmed being plastic (black, with letters) and without any metal additional ring. The black ring was the code used by captive bird breeders in 2020, so the bird had to be a first winter individual escaped from somewhere. 

According to European Colour-ring birding website only 24 Azure tits had been ringed in Belarus in 2019 with a combination of two colour rings in one leg and a metallic one in the other, not this case.

Lawicki(2012) summarized the status and occurrence of Azure Tits and hybrids with caeruleus in Europe (Dutch Birding 34: 219-231).  He states that ‘Apart from the presumed escape in Germany, no other Azure Tits originating from captivity are known for Europe. The  species  is  rare  (although not unknown) in captivity, at least in the Netherlands ‘, therefore this record demonstrates its existence in captivity in S Europe and the possibility of producing observations such as this.

Cyanistes cyanus. Lliçà de Munt, Vallès Oriental, Barcelona. 12.10.2020 © Sergi Torné

Cyanistes cyanus. Lliçà de Munt, Vallès Oriental, Barcelona. 12.10.2020 © Sergi Torné


Acknowledgements

Thanks to Sergi Torné for providing the enclosed photos and to the members of Cat Twitch for sharing the news.

Resumen: Herrerillo ciáneo (Cyanistes cyaneus) escapado observado en Catalunya en octubre de 2020. El 12.10.2020 saltó la notícia de la observación de un herrerillo ciáneo, puro, en una balsa de la localidad de Lliçà de Munt en Barcelona. Desplazados varios observadores a la zona se pudo fotografiar en condiciones y verificar que el ave estaba anillada con PVC negro, propio de criadores de aves en cautividad. Se trata de una de las pocas citas probadas de escapes en Europa que se conozcan.

Resum: Mallerenga capblanca (Cyanistes cyanus) escapada a Catalunya l'octubre de 2020. El dia 12 d'octubre es va conèixer l'observació d'una mallerenga capblanca a Lliçà de Munt, Vallès Oriental. La foto mostrava un exemplar pur. Desplaçats diferent personal observador a la zona es va poder fotografiar i comprovar que l'ocell estava anellat amb pvc de color negre i sense anella metàl·lica el que denotava el seu orígen procedent de captivitat. Es tracta d'una de les poques cites conegudes d'escapaments d'aquesta espècie a Europa. 

 

Cita/Citation

Gutiérrez, R.  2020. Escaped Azure Tit (Cyanistes cyanus) in Catalunya, October 2020. Rare Birds in Spain blog. Retrieved from https://rarebirdspain.blogspot.com/2020/10/escaped-azure-tit-cyanistes-cyanus-in.html

 

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