Bird Families

Short-toed pika, or garden pika (lat


Features: The pike is well identified by its characteristic appearance and behavior.

Habits: The pike climbs the trunk only from the bottom up in a spiral (bypassing the trunk in a circle), leaning on the tail, its movements are not fast, sometimes it crawls along the underside of the horizontal branches. The flight of the pika is fast, wavy, fluttering, with frequent flapping of its wings. Keeps alone and in pairs. But two or three pairs of pikas are found in mixed flocks of titmouse.
Nature of stay: A resident and nomadic bird.

Food: Mostly insects and spiders, less often seeds.
Breeding area: Coniferous and mixed forests in the plains and in the mountains.
Location of the socket and its description: In a hollow or behind peeling bark. The base of the nest is, as a rule, a loose platform of twigs and pieces of bark, abutting against the walls of the hollow (the nest is suspended in the middle of the depth of the hollow).
Egg laying time: April June
Eggs color and size: White with reddish dots, 1.5x1 cm.

Short-toed pika (Certhia brachydactyla)

Appearance: It is very similar to the common pika, but the eyebrow and the underside of the body are white with an ocher-brownish bloom on the abdomen and sides. Hind toe claw no longer than 7.5 mm.
The size: Less sparrow.

Features: In nature, it is practically indistinguishable from the common pika.

Habits: It stays alone and in pairs on tree trunks.
Nature of stay: A resident and nomadic bird.

Related materials (by tag)

  • Black-headed goldfinch, or common goldfinch (lat.Carduelis carduelis)
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  • Brown-winged plover, or American plover (lat.Pluvialis dominica)

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Short-toed pika

The short-toed pika is so similar to its relative, the common pika, that they can hardly be distinguished from each other. It reaches a size of 12 cm and weighs about 11 g. Its sharp beak is curved downward and reaches a length of 12 mm. The underside of the body is white, the upper side resembles tree bark in color, a light stripe extends back from the eyes. Males and females are colored the same. The relatively long tail is used for support and control in flight. The sound made by a short-toed pika sounds something like "quiet, quiet".

1. Distribution

Unlike its close relative, the short-toed pika prefers deciduous forests, parks and gardens with fruit trees. Its range extends throughout the year from Europe to North Africa.

2. Nutrition

The short-toed pika moves along the tree trunk with sharp jumps along a spiral path and searches the bark with its specialized beak for the presence of insects or spiders.

3. Reproduction

Sexual maturity is reached at the age of one year. The brooding period lasts from March to July. The nest is built in holes and crevices of the bark from small twigs, blades of grass, moss, animal hair and feathers. The female lays 5 - 7 eggs and incubates them for two weeks until the chicks hatch. Two weeks later, the chicks leave the parent nest.

Common pika: appearance

What does a pika look like? The photo of the bird displays the small features of a song migratory bird. The color is characteristic gray. However, it can be seen that although the common pika belongs to the family of "passerines", it is not a sparrow at all!

The body of an adult bird reaches a maximum of 12 centimeters in length. Weight - from 7 to 10 grams. The pika has a typical passerine constitution - a small head, a dense pear-shaped body, a long, sharp beak and thin, tenacious legs. The pika bird has a gray variegated color. She has patterned wings and a head. The abdomen is colored in a lighter tone. The tail of the bird is assembled from long, stiff brown feathers. With the help of a tail, the bird deftly climbs the trunks of trees and moves from branch to branch. The pika's beak is dark brown above and yellow below, the iris is dark. The pika's beak has adaptive features in the form of a pointed tip for food extraction. The color of the beak, merging with the color of tree trunks and branches, can be indirectly attributed to the same features.

Pika bird

The work of protected areas

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Where do birds of this breed live?

The habitat of pikas is quite extensive! The bird lives in the forests of Eurasia, Scandinavia, in the Siberian taiga. Some subspecies of birds are found in the north-east of Korea, China. There are pikas in the Amur River basin. One of the varieties of pika bird lives in the Crimea, Turkey, in the vastness of Iran.

Depending on the region of habitation, this species of birds chooses a certain biotope. But, an obligatory characteristic feature of the selected area is the presence of shrubs and trees. No wonder the pika bird in the photo is most often captured against the background of tree bark or on a branch. In other conditions, this little bird simply does not survive and does not protect itself from the external threat in the form of predators and accompanying climatic factors. And also the trunks of trees for the pika bird is the place where it gets food.

Reproduction and life expectancy

The pike lays its clutch once a year.
Common pikas live in forests, so they are perfectly adapted to moving along the trunks. Females start building the nest in mid-spring. The nest is built in a hollow or deep cleft in the bark. The structure is assembled from dry branches, the bottom is insulated with feathers and wool.

The female lays eggs at the end of May. The eggs are small, only 1.5 centimeters in diameter. Eggs are white with brown spots. Clutch consists of 6-7 eggs. In the southern regions, pikas manage to make 2 clutches per season, and in the northern regions, birds lay eggs once a year.

In addition to insects, pikas eat cone seeds.

The time for incubating eggs takes 2 weeks, after the same amount of time the young leaves the nest and begins to crawl along the trunk. Chicks begin to fly 3 weeks after birth. The common pika lives in the wild for 2-3 years, but in favorable conditions these birds can live up to 8 years.

The habitat of representatives of this species is extensive, only in Europe there are about 15-20 million common pikas. And besides this, birds inhabit vast areas of Asia. Therefore, we can safely say that the species is not threatened with extinction.

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Common pike

Small forest birds, as in the picture, are the common pika. This species has up to 12 subspecies. The birds almost do not differ in color. But, they have a longer, curved beak than some relatives, and tough long tail feathers.

Photo of common pika

Short-footed pika

This bird species lives not only in deciduous forests next to the common pika. Another short-toed pika can be found in the garden and park area. The bird happily settles next to a person and willingly assumes the fulfillment of its role in nature in a given habitat. External differences of this species are expressed in a white stripe above the eyes and a lighter color of the abdomen. By the name of the species, it is easy to guess that the structure of the legs is also a distinctive feature.

American view

The largest representative of the pika is the American bird. The body of this bird reaches 13 centimeters in length. A distinctive feature is a long, well-curved beak.

The American pika lives mainly in mixed and coniferous forests. Its northern populations are found in the corresponding part of Mexico, in the southern and eastern parts of the United States.

Photo of American pika

Hodgson's pike

Ornithologists identify another interesting species that lives in India and in the region of the western slopes of the Himalayas. This bird differs little from its relatives. However, looking at the photo of the Hodgson pika, one can note the difference by other representatives of the species.This subspecies is distinguished by its small size and a thinner curving beak.

Pika bird

Short-toed pika

Latin name:Certhia brachydactyla
Additionally:European species description

Appearance and behavior... A very small (much smaller than a sparrow) bird with a thin, curved beak, a relatively long tail and protective coloration. In appearance and behavior it is very similar to the common pika. Body length 12.5 cm, weight 7.5–11 g. Relatively silent and inconspicuous bird. Most often, it can be seen climbing along the trunk of a tree, while the bird moves along it from bottom to top, climbing in a spiral. Occurs singly or in pairs, and is often part of mixed flocks of titmouse. It flies badly and reluctantly.
Description... The general tone of the coloration of the upper is reddish-brown, especially saturated in the region of the back and upper tail. On a dark background, light streaks are evenly distributed, small and inconspicuous on the head, slightly larger ones on the back. A small light eyebrow with a reddish tinge is well pronounced, however, not as contrasting as in the common pika. The beak is long, thin, curved downwards. The upper mandible is dark brown, the mandible is yellowish. Flesh-colored feet. On the wing there is a complex pattern of combinations of black, reddish brown and white colors. The underside of the body, especially the sides, has a noticeable reddish tinge. The tail is wedge-shaped, reddish brown.

Young birds are very similar to adults, but their coloration is generally duller. The top of the body looks scaly, since wide light fields with clear dark edges are developed in the center of the contour feathers of the top. The underside of the body is often with gray or reddish spots. Unlike the common pika, the short-fingered beak is longer, and the claws (especially the claw of the hind toe) are shorter. The light eyebrow of the short-toed pika is reddish in color, indistinct and short, in front of the eyebrows rarely reach the base of the beak. The coloration of the belly and sides of the short-toed pika is reddish, in marked contrast with the white throat. A very important identifying feature is the voice, in particular the calls of both sexes and the song of the male.

Vote generally louder and cleaner, lower in tone than the common pika. The most characteristic call is a short loud cry "tit ..." or "tyut ...", devoid of the "vibrating" component, sounding similar to the calls of a Muscovy. Calls are often combined in a series, but these series are not as long as in the common pika, only 3-4 calls each. The song of the short-toed pika is a short (about two times shorter than that of the common) loud rhythmic whistling phrase, ending with a dry whistle, and not a trill, as in the common pika.

Distribution, status... Typical European look. Within the region under consideration, it is found only in the Western Caucasus (the Black Sea coast from Gelendzhik to Abkhazia, inclusive) and occasionally - as a bird - in the Kaliningrad region. The entire area of ​​distribution of the short-toed pika in Russia overlaps with the range of its twin species, the common pika. Compared to the common pika, it is relatively rare even in biotopes suitable for it. A sedentary bird making slight vertical roaming.

Lifestyle... Inhabits mixed and deciduous forests. In the two species of pikas in the Caucasus, there is a slight biotopic discrepancy: the short-toed pika is more common in deciduous forests and is associated with a lower mountain belt, while the common one occupies mixed and coniferous forests, rising higher into the mountains. It feeds on small insects and arachnids, which it looks for in cracks and small crevices of the bark, and also eats small seeds.

The nesting period is extended from April to June. The nest is most often arranged on a tree: in a crack, hollow or large crack in the trunk, behind a piece of exfoliated bark, at a height of 0.5–4 and up to 10 m above the ground. Less often, the nest is placed in the woodpecker hollow, the base of the nest of a large feathered predator or squirrel. The base of the nest is built of small twigs, needles, moss and wood fibers, usually the male builds it. The female completes the tray made of feathers, wool, lichens and cobwebs.

In clutch there are 4–9 white eggs with reddish or brownish specks. The female incubates, the period of incubation is 13–15 days. Feeding lasts 15–18 days; both parents feed the chicks. While the female is feeding the chicks of the first brood, the male usually starts building the second nest.

Short-toed pika (Certhia brachydactyla)

Singing abilities of pikas

Observing different types of birds, ornithologists noted that the common pika, for example, has a different voice from the garden bird. However, slight differences in the manner of singing and sonorous voices can be found between all varieties of this bird. But, it is not so easy to notice them. Long-term experience of observing several subspecies is required. But one thing can be concluded for sure, the pika bird has a unique, thin, sonorous voice. Many people know how the pika sings from childhood. These are rolling thin "tsiiii - tsiiit", which are distributed from tree branches with the onset of spring and do not stop until autumn. Pika is a bird whose voice reminds us of the onset of warm, fine days. Only a nightingale can compete with this bird in flooded singing. But, rather, these songbirds only complement each other, creating a harmonious bustling forest choir.

Common pike

About nuthatch, pikas and ecological niches

Not all birds fly away to warmer regions in winter. Many birds are not migratory, but nomadic. Their movements in search of food are limited only by roaming within the same natural zone. And there are sedentary birds - all year round living in almost the same place. It is difficult for all of them to find food in winter. But trees come to the rescue. In winter, many forest birds feed on plant seeds and hibernating insects, which are sought after on trunks and branches. The question arises: how do birds not eat each other?

It is clear that the owl and the woodpecker do not interfere with each other. But the woodpecker is not a competitor either, because they feed in different ways. The woodpecker takes insects out of the wood, and the tits look for them on the surface of the trunk and branches. Gouging holes (hemlines) in the trunks, the woodpecker looks for the larvae of longhorn beetles and other large insects, and the tits dig in the dust, choosing small living creatures from it. So woodpecker and tits often feed side by side and do not compete with each other.

But how do you manage to avoid competition with those birds that feed in the same places, and moreover in the same way? An example of this is the nuthatch and the pika. Let's get to know them better.

Nuthatch is a small squat bird with a noble gray back. There is a unique feature in the nuthatch's behavior that makes it easy to recognize. This is the way of feeding, for which the nuthatch got its name. In search of food - insects hiding in cracks in the bark, the nuthatch climbs up the tree trunk from top to bottom, methodically examining every crack it sees. First, it flies to the top, and then "crawls" to the base of the trunk, descending upside down. It is enough for us (humans) to try ourselves to look for insects on the surface of the bark to understand how difficult it is. The patience of the nuthatch can only be envied.

But not only nuthatch feeds in this way. In our forests, a bird lives, the size and shape of the body resembling a nuthatch, but differing from it in a brown-motley back and a slightly curved beak. This is a pika. The pike also crawls along the trunk, also looks for insects in the cracks of the bark and does it with no less patience. But when a pika and a nuthatch meet on the same tree, they do not rob each other.

The fact is that usually the nuthatch goes down the trunk, and the pika rises, climbing upward as if in a spiral. Thus, a pika and a nuthatch move towards each other, and some insects are found by a nuthatch, and others - by a pika. The nuthatch pulls insects out of the cracks that open upward, and the pika - from the cracks that open upward.

Little by little, through painstaking work, these little birds catch prey, which is by no means easy to find. For them it is food, and for the forest it is protection against insect pests. Nuthatch and pika work nearby, but do not interfere with each other. Often they can even be seen feeding at the same time on the same tree.

Each species has its own path, its own "profession", which scientists call an ecological niche. The ecological niches of the eagle owl and the woodpecker differ greatly, while the ecological niches of the nuthatch and the pika are very close, but still do not completely coincide. Different creatures, distributed over different ecological niches, live and thrive without interfering with each other. The secret of their quiet coexistence is in the choice of an ecological niche.

The same laws apply in the human world. Therefore, it is so important to find your own business and follow your vocation, and success will follow.

Sergey Khribar

What birds are like them?

If you look at a photo of a nuthatch bird, you can find some similarities. But they are mainly seen in the structure of the bird's body. Nuthatches have a completely different color. However, the habitat of these small birds is similar, and the preferences in nutrition are similar.

Sparrows are very similar to pikas. No wonder they are representatives of the same family. But unlike the pika, the sparrows are larger, not so pretentious about their habitat, the choice of food.

It can be compared to the pika and the wagtail. It is also a very small bird with characteristic features. However, the wagtail has significantly different color, some features of the lifestyle and the choice of habitat.

Photo of a bird nuthatch


The main food of pikas is insects and spiders. Mostly birds eat dipterans, spiders and beetles. Most of all they love weevils. Also, aphids, caterpillars, centipedes, bugs, moths, weevils and other forest pests are present in the diet of the pika. Birds also feed on seeds, but mainly from conifers and in winter. In search of food, these birds search the trunk of a 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 accustomed to one feeding place for a while, if you smear soft food and beef fat on the bark. In the summer, a nest box is hung, in which food is constantly put.

Where and how does it nest?

To create a nest, the female pika chooses slit spaces between the peeling bark of trees or in narrow through niches. Old abandoned birdhouses are also suitable for nesting.

The bird twists its nest in the form of a shapeless heap of thin twigs. A soft material is chosen as the basis: pieces of wool, moss, bast.

Photo pisukha

Pika bird: description at home

This is a little freedom-loving bird. Pikas are not bred at home. But, if a bird is brought into a human dwelling by chance, it is extremely important to provide it with proper nutrition. What the pika eats is easy to guess, given the peculiarities of its habitat. Pikas feed on small, inactive insects hiding in the bark of trees. These are mainly arachnid larvae, small bugs, bark beetles. In the harsh winter, the bird often switches to a diet consisting of conifer seeds.

Pika bird

Behavior and nutrition

This bird is sedentary. Forage is obtained in the bark of trees, it goes down to the ground extremely rarely. It consists of 70% insects. These are flies, aphids, caterpillars, moths, weevils, spiders, various larvae, and clickers. We can say that the common pika is a forest orderly, as it destroys a variety of pests. From plant foods, it feeds mainly on seeds that fall out of the cones of conifers. The bird behaves quietly, keeps imperceptibly, therefore it is very difficult to detect it. It usually moves along the trunk of a tree in a spiral, looking for insects in the bark.

This species occupies a huge area. The number of birds in Europe alone is estimated at 15-20 million individuals. But besides this, there is still a gigantic territory in Asia. So we can conclude that the population is not endangered.