Mustached: Everything you need to know about these birds

The mustached whisker identified by its scientific name Panurus biarmicus is a small-sized bird of the passerine species and has a unique family called Panuridae, although it previously integrated the family Paridae, the family Paradoxornithidae and the family Aegithalidae since it has certain features similar to the birds that integrate them.

Description of the mustached

The moustached is a small bird that has a length measured from its long tail to the head of 12.5 cm with a very plump appearance, has a very light brown plumage on the back with black and white markings on the wings, and the ventral part is clear with pink tones. They have a weight of approximately 11 gr to 21 gr, having a sexual dimorphism present in the male that has the feathers of the head of gray color until reaching the back of this, in addition to this has the part of the throat with lighter shades and some black spots in the form of whiskers that begin from the eyes to the chest.

In the case of the females the head is light brown with more opaque shades and the whiskers are barely visible due to the slightly darker plumage. Both have a wingspan that ranges between 16 cm to 18 cm, in young birds they have more yellowish shades on the back and chest and their tail is darker, and in the case of males a dark mark between the beak and eyes.

Distribution and habitat of the whiskered

The moustached whisker is distributed separately in different regions of Europe such as central and southern Europe, mainly in large regions with swampy vegetation, extending also in the Asian continent in the center and southeast.In the Iberian peninsular area it inhabits wetlands of La Mancha, lagoons of Navarre and the coastal areas of the Mediterranean, ponds located in Valencia and marshes south of the Spanish city of Alicante, where it is distributed throughout the European continent. There are also small colonies located in Palencia, Lérida, Huesca and La Rioja.

Behavior of the mustached

The moustached is a bird of sedentary habits, so they always stay in the same area throughout the year, but sometimes moves to usually to other marshes or ponds that are nearby, so it can be classified as part of the migratory birds half as they do during the winter, Spain being one of the regions where most observed the arrival of this species from other countries of the continent. It is monogamous, so it keeps the same pair for many years, forming a bond so great that the male can shelter the female under his wings to prevent her from being courted by other males or to protect her from danger.

It is normal for the mustached to move through flimsy flights while flapping rapidly, and that is why it is very difficult to observe them as they blend and meander through long stems of vegetation in their habitat or they are seen in acrobatic positions when hanging, so the easiest way to identify them is through their call that can be vocalized as a low, repetitive, trisyllabic “chirping!!!”.

Mustache feeding

The mustached is an omnivorous bird like the Mexican bullfinch , and this diet can vary according to the climatic season in which it is found. During the spring it captures different invertebrate animals and insects such as snails, worms, caterpillars, larvae, small insects, butterflies, among others, capturing them while flying between stems and carefully examining the ground. When winter arrives, its sustenance is based mainly on seeds that it can find on the ground as well as on vegetation that it can get on the banks.

Reproduction of the moustached

Moustached whiskers are generally gregarious, but in the spring they become solitary, waiting to be selected by a female, which is courted by males who show them locations for their nests located near water and that will be mounted on stems of marshy vegetation. These are formed by the pair with dry vegetation, hairs and feathers, as well as fluff, where the female will lay 5 to 7 eggs that are visually shiny and non-porous, with a very faint beige color with faint dark brown spots, which will be incubated by both parents for about 13 days. After hatching, the chicks will be fed for about 12 more days.

Then the mustached whiskered chicks begin to leave the nest and molt into adult plumage, become independent and join groups where they can be paired. This species can have up to four clutches a year if conditions permit, which solves the loss of young by natural predation since the nests are located in a very exposed way when the water level of the marsh decreases.

Threats to the mustached

The moustached whisker presents certain threats to its well-being, such as hunting activities that increase predation, as well as bringing rodents to these areas, to which both the young and the nests are very vulnerable. The IUCN considers it a near-threatened species.