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Blue tit

Overview

This is a very abundant and successful species. The blue tit is a familiar bird full of character and attitude, packing a lot of charm, noise and energy in a small bundle of feathers! The blue tit is a common and widespread year-round resident of woodland, parks and gardens in Britain and Europe. It is a lively, acrobatic little bird, often to be seen zipping from branch to branch or hanging upside-down in its constant quest for breakfast or supper. They can also be rather bolshy and defensive little mites and don’t easily tolerate other birds, especially other blue tits or great tits, in their territory – often aggressively chasing them off…. a diminutive neighbour from hell! They nest in naturally-occurring tree cavities or nest-boxes, and lay anything from 8 to 16 eggs which are off-white with faint brown speckles. Blue tits are mainly insectivores eating all manner of tiny insects and other invertebrates.

Small moth larvae (caterpillars) are a vital food source for hungry growing chicks in summer, with both parents feeding the young. Blue tits are usually seen individually, in pairs or small family groups.

Blue tit

 

Description

A bright little bird, rather distinctive with predominantly blue and yellow colouration and black trim, tiny stubby bill and medium length tail. The only similar bird in Britain is the blue tit’s close cousin the great tit, which is slightly larger with more black markings in its plumage. The blue tit has a bright blue crown (head) bordered white, a white cheek patch below the eye with contrasting black ‘face mask’, underparts are lemon yellow, wings and tail blue with a green-blue back. The sexes are very similar, males are sometimes fractionally larger than females with slightly brighter or darker plumage.

Latin name: Parus caeruleus

Call & Song: Has a wide variety of fine and clear call and song notes. Song is two drawn out high-pitched notes followed by a longer lower-pitched trill (‘tsee-tsee si-surrrrr’), call series of varied fast sharp high-pitched notes (e.g. ‘tsee-tsee-tsee-tsit’), alarm call irritated scolding notes.

Size: 10 ½ – 12cm (from bill to tip of tail)

In The Garden

This is one of the most frequent avian visitors to our gardens. It is a regular visitor to well-stocked bird tables and can often be seen showing-off its agility and acrobatic skills when hanging upside-down on feeders or fat balls! They are charming and entertaining birds to watch. Blue tits will be attracted to your garden if it has shrubs, trees or anywhere with nooks and crevices to poke about in for skulking invertebrate prey. They are also partial to beef fat, sunflower seeds and the high fat and protein content of peanuts. The blue tit is a help to any gardener when eating potential pests. Blue tits are well known for happily accepting man-made nest-boxes as nest sites in the absence of natural tree holes, and if you have a nest-box in your garden there is a good chance a blue tit will use it. Why not have a go at making your own nest-box to attract these birds to nest in your garden? Watch our video to find out how!

Did You Know…?

In Britain blue tits in the south usually have only one brood of chicks per season, whereas birds living in the north often manage two broods due to the longer day length in summer months.

In some parts of Britain blue tits developed a taste for the cream at the top of milk bottles on doorsteps, making themselves unwelcome guests in the morning by pecking through the foil cap to pinch the cream for their breakfast!

Want to find out how to attract blue tits to your garden? Check out our tips on bird food, setting up your bird feeders and making a bird box!

Blue tit

 

Written by Andy Mayo

 

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