About animals

Common pika


Latin name:Certhia familiaris
Additionally:European species description

Appearance and behavior. Very small (much smaller than a sparrow) bird with a thin, curved beak, a relatively long tail and a protective color. Body length 12.5 cm, weight 7–10 g. Relatively silent and inconspicuous bird. Most often, a pika can be seen climbing a tree trunk, while the bird moves along it from the bottom up, rising in a spiral. It is found singly or in pairs, often part of mixed bird flocks. Flies badly and reluctantly.

Description. Male and female are colored the same. The general tone of the top is brownish-brown, reddish in the back and the suprahangles. Light streaks are evenly distributed over the dark background, small on the head and larger on the back. A bright eyebrow is clearly visible, starting from the base of the beak and ending far behind the eye, actually already on the neck. The frenum and eye are black; a scaly pattern of light drop-shaped mottles is developed on the covering feathers of the ear. Beak moderately long, thin, curved down. The mandible is dark brown, the mandible is yellowish. On the wing is a complex pattern of combinations of black, tan and white. The bottom of the body is white. The tail is wedge-shaped, tan. Young birds are very similar to adults, but their color is generally more dull. The top of the body looks scaly due to the fact that in the center of the contour feathers of the top wide bright fields are developed, with clear dark edges. In most of the region under consideration is the only species of pikas.

However, in the western Caucasus, along the Black Sea coast from Gelendzhik to the border with Abkhazia, an ordinary pika lives side by side with a double species - a short-toed pika. You can reliably distinguish them from each other only by a set of signs, holding birds in their hands or having high-quality photographs. In an ordinary pika, the beak is shorter, and the claws (especially on the back finger) are longer than in the short-toed one. A light brow of an ordinary white pika, clear and wide, the front edges of the eyebrows often merge above the base of the beak. The coloration of the abdomen in an ordinary pika is white, without a reddish color on its sides.

Vote. A very important defining feature is the voice, in particular, the calls of birds of both sexes and the song performed by the male. The calls of the common pika are very monotonous, most often it is a long thin whistle "srrri. "With a pronounced" vibrating "component, less often - short, jerky cries"these. " or "tii. ". Often, the urge is a long series. The song of an ordinary squeak is a quiet, relatively long complex whistling phrase with a trill at the end. They actively sing in late winter and early spring.

Distribution Status. Palearctic forest zone. In European Russia, from the northern taiga to the forest-steppe zone, an isolated area covers the Caucasus. Settled species, birds make small wanderings. Owing to its stealth, the pika does not seem to be a large bird, however, in most of its range, it belongs to the usual forest species. In the most northern and southern limits of its distribution, as well as in highly sparse forests, the population density of pikas is very low.

Lifestyle. It inhabits various types of forests, preferring old ripe forest stands, which are an ideal place for nesting and searching for food. In those places where the range of the common pika is overlapped with the short-toed, the common is more often found in coniferous and mixed forests, often at higher altitudes than the short-toed pika. In most of the range, a settled bird, only northern and alpine populations make insignificant seasonal movements. It feeds on small insects and arachnids, which it finds in cracks in the bark and other shelters on trees, and also eats seeds of pine and spruce. Monogamous look. The construction of the nest begins in late April or early May.

The nest is most often arranged on a tree: in a crevice, hollow or large crack of the trunk, behind a piece of exfoliated bark at an altitude of 1–16 m above the ground, usually 1–2.5 m. Less often, the nest is placed in a niche in a man’s building and very rarely - on the earth. The base of the nest is constructed from small twigs, needles, moss and wood fibers - both members of the pair build it. A tray made of feathers, wool, lichens and cobwebs is made only by the female. In clutch there are 2–9 white eggs with pinkish or brownish speckles. The female incubates, the incubation period is 12–20 days. The nestlings have thick dark gray fluff on their heads, yellow pharynx, yellow beak ridges. Feeding lasts 12-19 days, both parents feed the chicks. About two weeks after the chicks leave the nest, the family group breaks up, and young birds join the mixed flocks of insectivorous birds.

Pika, or ordinary pika (Certhia familiaris)

Common Pischa

The common pika bird, the description of which is in this article, is very small in size, smaller than a sparrow. She has a stiff, pointed stepped tail. Bill is long, sickle-shaped, thin. Paws are short with strong claws. The body length for the male is from 110 to 155 mm, for females - from 121 to 145 mm. The weight of pikas ranges from 7 to 9.5 grams.

She crawls beautifully through the trees, using her rigid tail for support. It climbs the trunk, always starting to move from below, in a spiral, circumambulating the trunk. When it flies to another branch, it always sits lower than it was before. And again begins to rise from the bottom up.

It moves in short jumps and the beak thrusts into each crack. This bird is one of the best orderlies in the forest. Thanks to the thin beak, the pika even takes out larvae deposited by tree pests. But she does not pursue fast-running and flying insects.

Habitat and habitat

Pisukha is a bird leading a sedentary, less often nomadic way of life. It is common in Europe. And also in North Asia, Canada and America (USA). In Russia, pika can be found in the European part, starting from Arkhangelsk and ending with the Crimea and the Caucasus. There is no this bird only in the steppe and places where trees do not grow. During migrations, it can fly far beyond the border of the breeding range. Often found in small towns. In Asia, the pika is found in the forest belt of Siberia, east of Sakhalin and the Sea of ​​Okhotsk, south of the Tien Shan, Mongolia, Northern Iran and Kazakhstan.

Prefers deciduous, coniferous and mixed forests. Pisheha prefers old trees. During the nesting period, he selects old deciduous and mixed forests. Less commonly, it can be seen in conifers. During wanderings it is found in gardens, parks, groves - wherever trees grow.

What does a pika bird look like: color

The back of a pika is grayish or brown-red, with pale white spots. Loin and nadhvoste - grayish-brown. The abdomen is white, silky. Fly wings are light brown with small bright spots. The helmsmen are of the same color, but they have light edges and superstars.

Beak brownish on top and lighter below. Brown iris. The legs are the same color, but with a grayish tint. In young pikas, the spots on the back are round, in adults - elongated. The color of the young is more dull, and the abdomen is yellowish.

The main food of the pika is insects and spiders. Mostly birds eat dipteran insects, spiders and beetles. Most of all weevils are loved. Also in the diet of pikas there are aphids, caterpillars, centipedes, bugs, moths, weevils and other forest pests. Birds feed on seeds, but mainly from conifers and in winter. In search of food, these birds search the trunk of the tree, not losing sight of a single crack. If the tree has a lot of food, then the pika can return to it several times.

In winter, this bird can be trained for a while at one feeding place, if you smear soft food and beef fat on the bark. In the summer, a small house is hung, in which food is constantly placed.

Bird Pika: Description of Breeding

The mating season in pikas begins in March. At this time, you can see the fights of males and how they sing. Nests start building pikas later. First carefully choose a place. Insects prefer narrow hollows or lagging bark. But the nest is always located low from the ground.

Pisas build nests from eight to twelve days. But only females prepare it for themselves, males do not care about posterity. The bottom of the nest usually has a loose platform and consists of pieces of bark and thin branches. They abut against the walls of the hollow. It turns out that the nest does not lie in it, but strengthens in the middle. Above, the dwelling is built from bast fibers mixed with small pieces of bark, lichen, wood and bunches of moss. Inside, it is lined with many small feathers mixed with wool, cobwebs, and cocoons of insects.

An ordinary pika lays five to seven eggs. Eight or nine is extremely rare. Eggs are reddish-brown, with dots and specks. They are most at the blunt end. Sometimes in the masonry there are white eggs with a barely noticeable pinkish spot.

The female hatches the clutch from 13 to 15 days. After birth, the chicks remain in the nest for the same time. The female feeds them with spiders and small insects. Chicks of the first clutch begin to fly in May-June. From the second - in June-July. Having strengthened, the chicks begin to roam, but not flying away from the nest.

Pisukha is a bird molting in the first year of life. She begins to change plumage in July. Moult ends in September. In older birds, this period lasts from June to August. Moreover, the contour large wings are the first to change. Small ones - later, at the end of the molt. After the change of plumage, it becomes brighter. And the color of the feathers is red.

Subspecies and Changing Attributes

A pika is a bird with geographic variation. This is manifested in body size and discoloration of feathers in the upper half of the body. But it can be seasonal or individual. And this greatly complicates the definition of geographical species. Now there are twelve of them. The differences between them are very small, and it can be very difficult to distinguish between them.

In England and Ireland, the color of pikas is darker than in Western Europe. In Japan - with a pronounced red tint. The singing of different subspecies also varies. Basically, their trill is loud and long, with short pauses. It was for his squeak that the bird got its name.

Piku lifestyle

An ordinary pika flies little and badly. Basically, these are only flights from one tree to the foot of another. Due to the long and curved claws, this bird clings to the bark very tightly. Pikas live mostly scattered. They are single. But when autumn comes, they come together in packs. And with other species of birds. For example, with titmouse.

In the cold, they can sit in a dense ring of 10-15 birds, warming up. In autumn, pikas seek out places with a large number of trees - parks, squares, forests. But in the rest of the seasons, birds have their own feeding and sleeping areas, which they defensively defend.

Pisukha is a fearless bird. When she is in search of food, even when she sees a person, she will not fly away.

She even knows how to sing. True, her trill is double, like a piercing squeak. The second is always lower than the first.

Since the tail of a pika is a support when searching for food, it erases with time and the feathers become tousled. Therefore, the tail of this bird molts more often than the rest of the plumage.

Finding a pika is not easy. She always keeps imperceptible, and the color of her plumage is well camouflaged. But sometimes, noticing something suitable in the snow, it can still jump onto it. Grabbing the prey, she again hurries to the trunk.

With the end of winter, the pika becomes more energetic, livelier. On the trunks she begins to crawl much faster, and when meeting with relatives, she even fights.

Bird description

Pishuha is a small songbird from the eponymous genus of the Passeriformes order. The length of the body of pikas is about 12 cm, weight is from 7 to 13 g.

The plumage on the back is beige-brown, decorated with dark spots, the tummy is light gray in color. All representatives of the species have a curved beak, brown elytra with figured patterns, white feathers under the wings. The stiff feathers of the brown tail of the pikas help the bird deftly climb the trunks of the trees in search of food, but only up, upside down the pika does not move.

Features of eating pikas

The main food of the pika is insects and other invertebrates, which this little bird cleverly finds when jumping through trees. In the crevices of the cortex, the pika also looks for spiders, eggs of insects, larvae and pupae. Occasionally, a bird in search of food sinks to the ground.

In the cold season, pikas can also eat plant foods, such as coniferous tree seeds.

Distribution of pikas in nature

All types of pikas are widespread on the Eurasian continent from Japan to Spain, over an area of ​​more than 10 million km 2. Their habitats overlap, so it can be difficult to accurately distinguish between these small nimble birds that live on the same territory.

For nesting, the pika selects coniferous and mixed foxes in temperate climates. Especially the bird likes to settle in spruce and fir thickets

Pikas that live in the northern regions make nests in the lowlands. Southern subspecies prefer forests with a height of 1000 m above sea level.

Is the bird migratory?

Pikasu, which live in the south and west of their distribution range, are sedentary birds. But many northern residents go to the warm southern regions for the winter. Including mountain pikes for the cold period, moving down from their usual habitats.

What does an ordinary pika look like?

The size of the pika is even smaller than the sparrow, the growth of an adult bird barely reaches 12 cm, and its weight is from 7 to 10 g. Addition is typically sparrow: a dense rounded body, small head, colorful plumage, but the similarities end there.

The pikas have a longer, very stiff tail, on which the bird leans during its long exercises along tree trunks. Due to such increased depreciation, specimens with a noticeably ruffled tail, which acquires a natural shape only after molting, are often found.

Another distinctive feature of pikas is a long thin beak, sickle-shaped downward, which serves as a reliable tool for extracting various insects from under the bark of trees.

A pika on a tree trunk.

The color of the plumage of an ordinary pika

It will not be possible to distinguish a female from a male; they are of the same size and are colored the same. An ordinary pika has a classic mottled-spotted camouflage color of plumage. The upper part is brownish-brown with a reddish tinge of the back, the stomach is white. On a general dark background, in a certain sequence, distinct bright speckles are scattered, on the head as small as dots, on the back rather large.

The wedge-shaped tail is reddish-brown. The wings of pika are covered with intricate patterns composed of black, white, red and brown.

The beak of the birds is brown above, yellowish below, the iris is dark. Light “eyebrows” are indicated above the eyes, which extend from the base of the beak and extend almost to the neck.

Describing an ordinary pika, one cannot help but mention its closest relative and almost double - a short-toed pika. Both birds are painted the same and can be distinguished if you pick up and carefully examine or have professional photos of pikas of both species.

The main difference is eyebrows. In an ordinary pika, they are almost white, wide and well defined. As for the anatomical differences, the beak of the short-toed pika is longer, and the claws on the fingers, on the contrary, are shorter.

To date, scientists are considering from 9 to 12 subspecies of the common pika, representatives of which differ in habitat and slight variations in the color of plumage.

A pika on a tree trunk.

Common pika

This species has from 9 to 12 subspecies, but in appearance they are quite similar: the birds are small, the size of a house sparrow, their back is brown, mottled or decorated with specks, the tail is redder, the belly is grayish-white. Ordinary pikas also features a curved long beak, and stiff long tail feathers.

Where does the common pika live

The range of these small birds is extremely extensive, runs throughout the forest zone of Eurasia and covers an area of ​​about 10 million km2.

The nominative subspecies Certhia familiaris familiaris with all inherent coloring features is found from the countries of Scandinavia to the Siberian taiga.

The Daurian subspecies of the common pika lives in Eastern Siberia and in the northern regions of Mongolia. These birds are darker than a typical subspecies and have a gray hue of plumage. In Japan, even darker pikas are common, the color of which is more red.

The eastern subspecies lives in the northeast of China and Korea and in the Amur River basin. A distinctive feature of birds - clear light streaks on the back.

Also of interest is the Persian subspecies, these are the most dull colored pikas that can be found in the Crimea, Turkey and the northern regions of Iran.

The inhabitants of India, Kashmir and the western slopes of the Himalayas are distinguished by a number of scientists as a separate species - the Hodgson pit. The same ornithologists consider the “neighbors” from the Eastern Himalayas, as well as China and Sihuani, to be the subspecies of Hodgson's pods.

Depending on the area of ​​distribution, pikas choose different biotopes, but with the condition necessary for normal existence - the presence of trees. Therefore, the best photos of pikas are usually on the background of tree bark.

Pies in a tree.

Common Pikha lifestyle

In the north-west of the range, the common pika settles in the old tall forests, Asian populations rise in mountain forests over 2 thousand meters above sea level.

These birds live settled, only the inhabitants of the extreme northern areas of the range migrate to the south for the winter, and the inhabitants of mountain forests come down to the valleys.

Outside of the nesting period, adult pikas live alone, only in winter they are seen in small flocks or in the community of tits. Pikas fly little and extremely reluctantly, the flight of these birds is jerky and uneven with alternating short butterfly-like swings, gliding and swooping.

Many closely related species of birds at the intersection of ranges become competitors and one species gradually crowds out the other. Ordinary and short-toed pikas share the territory fraternally, only the former prefer coniferous forests, with a predominance of fir and spruce, while the latter live in deciduous and mixed forests. In areas where common pikas are the only species of the genus, birds inhabit any forest.

A close relationship between the pika and the trees was first noticed by Aristotle, then Karl Linnaeus, who described the species as "a small bird living on trees." Such a connection is not accidental: trees for pikas are not only a habitat, but also the main source of nutrition.

Pies in a tree.

What does an ordinary pika eat

The diet of these birds is based on various sedentary insects, lovers of hiding under the bark of trees.

Pikushas begin their journey to the top from the very bottom of the tree, quickly jump along the trunk, clinging to the bark with sharp claws and leaning on hard steering feathers. Each crack that is barely visible to the human eye is carefully examined with a long sharp beak, cleverly removing insects, arachnids, their eggs, larvae and pupae from under the bark.

The trunk is always bent around in a spiral and that is interesting: females usually look for food in the upper part of the trunk, and males in the lower. Feeding behavior pikas resemble their distant relative of a nuthatch, but unlike him they never go down the trunk upside down. Having finished exploring the tree, the pika flies to the foot of the next.

Occasionally, pikas feed on the walls of wooden structures, looking for bark beetles. Closer to autumn, birds can be found busily digging in the forest litter, and in severe winters conifer seeds appear in the diet of pikas.

In early spring, pikas climb on tree trunks not only in search of food, but also in the hope of finding a suitable place for a nest.

Common Pischa.

Propagation Features

Pikes reach reproductive maturity at the age of 1 year. These birds are monogamous and create a couple for life. If an acclimatized giant sequoia grows in the nesting places, pikas are chosen for the construction of a nest of emptiness under the bark of this particular tree.

For lack of sequoiadendron, the birds are content with old aspen, linden or birch, where they build a nest in crevices of the bark or hollow. Sometimes nests of common pikas are found in cracks in buildings and even in birdhouses. Interestingly, the nests are often located 50 cm from the ground, but in the bulk at a height of 1 to 4 m.

Both partners build the base and walls of the nest using thin twigs, blades of grass, moss and pieces of bark. Only the female lays the tray; the material is lichens, cobwebs, wood dust, feathers and wool. Construction takes about 2 weeks, and the finished construction looks somewhat flattened.

Depending on the range, egg-laying occurs from March to July. Clutch contains 5-6 (sometimes up to 9) white speckled eggs. Only the female is engaged in incubation, the incubation period lasts from 12 to 20 days. Chicks are born with thick ash-gray down on their heads.

Both parents take care of the offspring, tirelessly feeding their chicks for 12-19 days. Able to fly young pikes keep their parents for another 2 weeks, and after the family breaks up. In the southern areas of the range, parents begin reproduction, and young birds begin independent life in flocks of insectivorous feathered first-year-olds.

According to the observations of scientists, the oldest pika lived 8 years 10 months, but the average life expectancy of these birds in nature is only 2 years. The reason for this is natural carelessness and a considerable number of enemies, for example, a large motley woodpecker, ferrets, weasels and squirrels. Nevertheless, ordinary pikas are numerous in appearance and the state of their population does not cause concern.

Other representatives of the genus pika

The species of common pika belongs to the genus pika of the family Pika. This genus consists of 7 species.

  1. American Pika - North American Warbler,
  2. Short-toed pika
  3. Bicolor pika
  4. Common Pika (described on this page)
  5. Himalayan pika
  6. Nepalese pika
  7. Certhia tianquanensis.

American pika

American Pika - North American Warbler. This species lives in the coniferous and mixed forests of North America right up to the north of Mexico. The bird is known not only for its voice, but also for systematically inspecting trees in search of spiders and insects.

American pika.

Short-toed pika

The short-toed pika lives in Europe and North Africa and is outwardly difficult to distinguish from an ordinary pika. But he prefers to settle in deciduous forests, parks and orchards with fruit trees.

Short-toed pika.

Short-toed or garden pika

The appearance looks very much like an ordinary pika, and these closest relatives often live next to each other. The bird’s body is 12 cm long and weighs up to 11 g. The beak of this species is long and curved downward. The tail is also long. Both females and males are feathered the same way: their belly is whitish, their back is brownish-brown, and a light streak above their eyes.

The garden pika lives, unlike its relatives, in deciduous forests, and also next to humans - in gardens and parks. It occurs throughout Europe and North Africa.

Pikha at home

In captivity, the common pika and related species are not bred. This bird gets used to home conditions poorly, it is difficult for her to choose the necessary food and provide her with space and movement. You can observe the dexterity of pikas and enjoy their melodic whistling singing in nature, in parks and gardens.

Interesting facts about pika

  • Males of the common pika are searching for food at the bottom of tree trunks, and females in their upper part.
  • The American pika in the non-breeding period leads a solitary lifestyle. The flocks are united only in the cold period.
  • In winter colds, pikas often adjoin flocks of other birds, such as titmouse or kings, however, they do not feed together, but seek company only for greater safety.
  • The pika uses its tail of hard feathers as a support while moving through the trees in search of food, so the feathers wear out and fall out over time, and therefore they are updated more often than once a year.
  • Life expectancy in pikas is 2 to 3 years, but sometimes it can reach 8 years.

Singing squeales

Pisukhs sing quietly, not pretentiously. Their song is slightly different in type. So, an ordinary pika whistles melodiously, the sounds of “vet-vet” and sonorous “cyt” can be heard in her singing. The melody of a garden squeak is reminiscent of a chime with the sounds "quiet-quiet-quiet." And the species got its name thanks to the fine squeaking singing.