Bird of the Week: Bearded Reedling
It does the splits and it looks like that!!!!
As someone whose entire livelihood depends on writing, I have a complex relationship with the well-worn saying “a picture is worth a thousand words.” I need those thousand words to pay my rent!!! Get outta here picture!
But sometimes, one is forced to concede that not even the most lyrical writer (and I am definitely not that) can compete with a picture. And that brings us to our latest Bird of the Week. It’s the bearded reedling, and, well:
IT’S A LITTLE POOFBALL AND IT HAS A LITTLE MUSTACHE AND IT IS DOING THE SPLITS, I REPEAT, IT IS DOING THE SPLITS.
The existence of this bird was brought to our attention by Discourse Blog reader Miranda Adams, and we are extremely grateful. Like…………..what can I even say? OK, I’ll say a few things.
Actually no, I’ll do another picture first.
And here’s the female—a little less poofy and no mustache but still adorable.
Can you even deal with this bird???? OK, OK, a couple facts.
The bearded reedling (which is also known as the bearded tit, but apparently it was recently deemed to not be part of the tit family and also I am going to stop saying tit) is a little songbird (small enough to fit in the palm of your hand) that lives all over Europe and also a bunch of Asia. Not only is it not a member of the aforementioned family, but some scientists have concluded that it’s barely related to any other kind of bird! The reedling broke the mold!
Reedlings, as you may have surmised, love reeds. They love them so much that they radically alter their diet as the year goes on so they can keep hanging out in their reed habitats. In the warmer months, they feed on insects that are around the place, and then in the colder months, they just feed on seeds. According to the fine bird people at Cornell, the lining of their stomach actually changes to accommodate the new diet, becoming harder and thicker, and then changes back when it’s time to eat bugs again. Birds!
And, as I mentioned, they do the splits so that they can stay on the reeds!
Look at this other picture. (Also here you can see that their mustache actually droops down off of their face.)
It’s like a 19th-century professor that’s also a little round bird and is extending its legs quite far outwards. Perfect.
OK, let’s do some videos.
Here’s the calls it makes—very cute.
And here’s a bunch of reedlings hopping around and chirping and looking for food!
And here is the best one of them all, because you can see the absolutely Olympic-level dexterity the reedlings have when they need to maneuver along the very thin reeds that they call home. Simone Biles could never.
Reed on, reedling! Reed on.