Bird Notes : Blue tit

The Blue tit
Cyanistes caeruleus

Feisty things often come in tiny packages. The Blue Tit measures just four and a half inches, but possesses a temperament the inverse of it’s size. During nesting they’re intolerant of anything “not quite right”, think and fly in straight lines, and get a proper grump on if other Blue Tit’s muscle in on their area. The trees in our garden offer a home to a pair and whilst they’ve seen off any real rivals they still spend countless hours constantly kicking off. The problem is that the birds they’ve become so enraged by are actually themselves, absorbed in their own reflection, merrily attempting to bully away the Blue Tits they imagine to be on the other side of car wing mirrors. If the line between genius and madness is thin, Blue Tits are perched right on the fence.

Remarkably for such a tiny bird they lay between 7-16 eggs, the young fed mainly with moth caterpillars - an average brood requiring as many as 1000 caterpillars every day. The British population is estimated at 3 million pairs, producing around 30 million young per year. It’s a wonder there are any moths left at all.

Once the scourge of milk loving families across Britain, they learnt to peck through the foil caps of doorstep left milk, enticed by the fat-rich cream that settled towards the top of the bottle. The fast spread of this phenomenon across Britain led some to claim it as a kind of magic. The truth is simpler: Observed behaviour, passed on from parent to offspring, leading to a rapid evolution of diet and conduct. With the move to skimmed and semi-skimmed milk, and away from a morning milk delivery, this ritual is likely to soon become a thing of myth.

Information

FAMILY Paridae (Tits and Chickadees)
HABITAT Gardens, hedges and mixed woodland
SIZE Length, 12 cm. Wingspan 18cm
DIET Seeds, Insects and Spiders
BREEDS April-May, 1 Brood
NEST Mossy cup, lined with feathers
EGGS 7-16. White with purplish speckles
RANGE Ubiquitous. Found almost everywhere
COLLECTIVE NOUN Banditry
OLD NAMES Billy-biter; Pick-cheese; Blue Top; Tittymouse

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