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the web of life in southern Africa

Parus cinerascens (Ashy tit) 

Akasiagrysmees [Afrikaans]; Acacia-mees [Dutch]; Mésange cendrée [French]; Aschenmeise [German]; Chapim-cinzento [Portuguese]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria > Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora > Aves (birds) > Order: Passeriformes > Family: Paridae

Parus cinerascens (Ashy tit)   

Ashy tit, Tswalu Kalahari Reserve, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©]


Distribution and habitat

Near-endemic to southern Africa, occurring in the arid savannas woodlands of Botswana and the Kalahari Desert in South Africa and Namibia, extending marginally into south-western Angola. It also has a disjunct population in Zimbabwe, specifically in areas where the miombo (Brachystegia) woodland has been replaced with thorny woodland, thus displacing the Miombo tit.

Distribution of Ashy tit in southern Africa, based on statistical smoothing of the records from first SA Bird Atlas Project (© Animal Demography unit, University of Cape Town; smoothing by Birgit Erni and Francesca Little). Colours range from dark blue (most common) through to yellow (least common). See here for the latest distribution from the SABAP2.  

Brood parasites

It has been recorded as host of the Greater honeyguide.


It eats mainly eats insects, especially caterpillars and beetles, supplemented with fruit and seeds. It forages in the tree canopy, sometimes rapidly pecking Acacia erioloba (Camel thorn) pods in search of seed parasites. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:


  • The nest is a thick pad built of animal hair and fine plant fibres, usually placed in either a natural tree cavity or an old barbet or woodpecker nest. It also has occasionally been recorded to nest in horizontal and vertical pipes.
  • Egg-laying season peaks from October-December.
  • It lays 3-6 eggs, which are incubated solely by the female for approximately 14-15 days. The male brings her food once every hour or so, each visit involving both birds rapidly quivering their wings.
  • During the first week of the chick's lives the female broods and feeds them with food given to her by the male at the nest entrance. Thereafter both sexes forage and give food to their young, who leave the nest at about 20-22 days old.


Not threatened.


  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town.