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Poecile is a genus of birds in the tit family Paridae. It contains 15 species, which are scattered across North America, Europe and Asia; the North American species are the chickadees. In the past, most authorities retained Poecile as a subgenus within the genus Parus, but treatment as a distinct genus, initiated by the American Ornithologists Union, is now widely accepted.[1] This is supported by mtDNA cyrochrome b sequence analysis.[2]

Poecile montanus kleinschmidti 2.jpg
Willow tit, Poecile montanus
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Paridae
Genus: Poecile
Kaup, 1829

see text

The genus Poecile was erected by the German naturalist Johann Jakob Kaup in 1829.[3] The type species was subsequently designated as the marsh tit (Poecile palustris) by English zoologist George Robert Gray in 1842.[4][5] The name Poecile is from Ancient Greek poikilos "colourful". A related word poikilidos denoted an unidentified small bird.[6] It has traditionally been treated as feminine (giving name endings such as cincta); however, this was not specified by the original genus author Johann Jakob Kaup, and under the ICZN the genus name must therefore be treated by default as masculine, giving name endings such as cinctus.[1]


The genus includes the following fifteen species:[7]

Image Common Name Scientific name Distribution
White-browed tit Poecile superciliosus central China and Tibet.
  Sombre tit Poecile lugubris southeast Europe and southwest Asia
Père David's tit Poecile davidi central China in southern Gansu, western Hubei, southern Shaanxi and Sichuan
  Marsh tit Poecile palustris temperate Europe and northern Asia
Caspian tit Poecile hyrcanus northern Iran, just extending into Azerbaijan.
  Black-bibbed tit Poecile hypermelaenus central and eastern China to southeast Tibet and western Myanmar.
  Willow tit Poecile montanus temperate and subarctic Europe and northern Asia
Sichuan tit Poecile weigoldicus central China
  Carolina chickadee Poecile carolinensis United States from New Jersey west to southern Kansas and south to Florida and Texas
  Black-capped chickadee Poecile atricapillus Across North America, from New England to Newfoundland in the east, and from Washington to Alaska in the west
  Mountain chickadee Poecile gambeli western United States
  Mexican chickadee Poecile sclateri Mexico
  Grey-headed chickadee Poecile cinctus subarctic Scandinavia and northern Asia, and also into North America in Alaska and the far northwest of Canada
  Boreal chickadee Poecile hudsonicus Canada, Alaska, and the northern edges of the northernmost portions of the lower forty-eight United States
  Chestnut-backed chickadee Poecile rufescens Pacific Northwest of the United States and western Canada, from southern Alaska to southwestern California


  1. ^ a b Gosler, A.; Clement, P.; Bonan, A. (2019) [2007]. del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J.; Christie, D.A.; de Juana, E. (eds.). "Tits and Chickadees (Paridae)". Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions. Retrieved 27 August 2019.
  2. ^ Gill, F.B.; Slikas, B.; Sheldon, F.H. (2005). "Phylogeny of titmice (Paridae): II. Species relationships based on sequences of the mitochondrial cytochrome-b gene". Auk. 122 (1): 121–143. doi:10.1642/0004-8038(2005)122[0121:POTPIS]2.0.CO;2.
  3. ^ Kaup, Johann Jakob (1829). Skizzirte Entwickelungs-Geschichte und natürliches System der europäischen Thierwelt (in German). Darmstadt: Carl Wilhelm Leske. p. 114.
  4. ^ Gray (1842). Appendix to a List of the Genera of Birds (2nd ed.). London: R. and J.E. Taylor. p. 8.
  5. ^ Dickinson, E.C.; Christidis, L., eds. (2014). The Howard & Moore Complete Checklist of the Birds of the World. Volume 2: Passerines (4th ed.). Eastbourne, UK: Aves Press. p. 428. ISBN 978-0-9568611-2-2.
  6. ^ Jobling, J.A. (2018). del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J.; Christie, D.A.; de Juana, E. (eds.). "Key to Scientific Names in Ornithology". Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions. Retrieved 15 May 2018.
  7. ^ Gill, Frank; Donsker, David (eds.). "Waxwings and their allies, tits & penduline tits". World Bird List Version 6.1. International Ornithologists' Union. Retrieved 15 February 2016.