Wild Things: Life as We Know It

Butterfly GPS, glowing mushrooms, bat-hunting songbirds and more

(Wayne Bennett / Corbis)


great tit songbird / bat
(Maura McCarthy)
Name: The great tit (Parus major), a sparrow-size songbird widely distributed in Europe and parts of Asia.
In The Field: Is a lively backyard visitor, with bright colors and a multiplicity
of songs.
In The Cave: Becomes a pillaging bat predator.
Under Study: The bird goes bat hunting when seeds and insects become scarce, usually in late winter, notes a study led by the Max Planck Institute in Seewiesen, Germany. Then it's ambush time. Researchers watched great tits enter a Hungarian cave where common pipistrelle bats were hibernating and haul the inch-and-a-half-long animals out. The researchers call it a "surprising innovation" during a food shortage.

Learn more about the great tit at the Encyclopedia of Life.

Learn more about pipistrelle bats at the Encyclopedia of Life.

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